Dear Richly-Blessed People,
At the beginning of the sermon last Sunday I mentioned Covenant Church in Carrollton, TX, a megachurch that just before Easter donated over $10,000,000 to help pay off the medical bills of over 4,000 families in their area. Pastor Stephen Hayes, whose own huge medical bills as a teenager had been partially paid off by his home church, compared Covenant Church’s generosity to Christ’s, Who paid our debt of sin in full at the cross.
Those Texas church checks averaged out to about $2,500 each, which makes our church’s occasional gifts of pens or keychain flashlights look pretty lame by comparison! But the whole thing got me to thinking about relative values. Imagine what it would be like if the Savings Bank down the street from us began handing out $2,500 checks to anyone who stopped in to get one. Word would spread like wildfire, and a line several blocks long would form within minutes.
Yet what our church has to offer is worth so much more than even millions of dollars. We have the news of how to be reconciled to God; how to experience joy, meaning, purpose, and fulfilment; how to discover wisdom for living; how to have healthy relationships; and how to receive eternal life, beginning immediately and lasting literally forever, to name just a few. But people aren’t beating down our doors to come in and get these priceless gifts. Why not? Because they don’t know the value of them, nor that we can help folks access them.
I’m reminded of the old joke about the rich man who pleaded pitifully on his deathbed to be allowed to bring some of his wealth with him when he died. An angel sought and got special, one-time permission from God for the man to bring one suitcase with him. The dying man loaded it with gold ingots just before passing away, but at the Pearly Gates St. Peter told him, “Hold on! You can’t bring that in here.”
The man explained that God had given him special permission. Peter verified it with the Head Office, saying, “My apologies. You’re right. The Lord says that you’re allowed one carry-on bag, but that I’m supposed to check its contents before letting it through.”
St. Peter opened the suitcase and exclaimed, “Pavement?! You brought pavement?!”
So, how do we interest people in life’s true riches, rather than the stuff that they make streets out of in Heaven? By being, as Jesus put it, the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). Salt makes people thirsty, and when they’re thirsty the Living Water of the Spirit that Jesus offers (John 7: 37-39) becomes much more appealing to them.
May people find enough of Christ in you and me to develop a thirst for Him. Then, when He fully slakes their thirst, they’ll have found something worth infinitely more than $2,500 checks.
Yours in Him,
(Rev.) Peter A. Brown