Last month we had a skip on the drive at the vicarage. We filled the skip with the stuff from our basement which was contaminated with sewerage when the main sewer, which runs down Burlington Road, got blocked, burst and flooded the vicarage basement with raw sewerage. Yuk!
As we waited for the stinking skip to be removed, a steady stream of people came to poke around and take stuff, even when we warned that it was contaminated. Bits of metal and wood were taken away to be sold for scrap or used in construction. One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure.
Have you ever wondered why one person thinks God is rubbish and another treasures God? Or why one person treasures church and another thinks church is rubbish? Let’s explore the reasons for this.
Why do some people treasure God? Well, in one way, all people are like the men who poked around in the skip. We are all looking for answers to what life is about. Some people poke around and find Jesus amongst all the rubbish, and when they do, they treasure him. Jesus says that the person who seeks God and finds him, discovers the worlds greatest treasure.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Matthew 13:44
On the other hand, the bible tells us that many people are like the person who only see rubbish in the skip. Many people think God is rubbish. Yet, we all have a deep knowledge of who God really is, but people refuse to treasure him.
although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
It really is as simple as that. All people know God, some people find and treasure him but others refuse to glorify and thank him. What foolishness!
Now, let’s turn the image around to think about the world and the church. Let’s image that the world is like the skip.
The skip was filled with stuff contaminated by sewerage, nothing was clean, and the bible says that world is filled with people who are contaminated by sin and need to be cleansed. If the world is like the skip, then it is God who is like the men who came to poke about in the skip to find, rescue and cleanse people.
God decontaminates people completely at the cross where cleansing, forgiveness and healing has been found through Jesus. God then decontaminates in a second way, by the transformation of his people through his word and by his Holy Spirit. Amazing grace!
So, what is the church? The church is where the stuff from the skip praises the one who rescued them. People in church share their joy and delight in the God who has decontaminated them.
The church is also the place where God’s people work out how to live with one another and overcome sinful, selfish and proud ways of living. Church is the place where heaven touches earth, as God works, by his word and Spirit, to push back evil and spread his love and goodness over the face of the earth. He does this through broken, messed up, contaminated and sinful people. We should all treasure the church, as it is God’s handiwork on earth.
Yet, to many people the church is rubbish. Some people would like to see the church removed from the earth and buried in landfill. “Take the church away!” they say “bury the church!” I hope my explanation of why the church is treasure in the skip changes your mind if you are one of those who thinks church is rubbish.
One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure. Will you treasure God and treasure his church? And will you remember that the world is like a skip full of contaminated people in need of the cleansing forgiveness of God, starting with me? And that God has cleansed us at the cross and will cleanse us as he makes his people ready to meet with him. Anyone who has not been rescued from the skip by Christ is destined for the landfill. Will you seek Christ whilst he may be found?
With love, Neil