The treasure of the church

Avatar photo Tom Grant
6th June 2024 3 minute read
A community sale in a church

I remember it so clearly. I was a young, impressionable Christian attending a conference for the first time. The keynote speaker was sharing such impressive stories that I was left in total awe and, if I am totally honest, with a mild sense of inferiority also.

He began to display on the big screen picture after picture of precious stones that had miraculously appeared during meetings he had been speaking at. My mind was blown. I was left wondering quite how the worship at my church might inspire God to drop a few jewels our way. What a blessing it would be to be able to turn the heating on a bit earlier with all that extra gemstone money. 

I was in equal measure impressed by the man speaking and concerned for whichever poor person had to follow him. Little did I know it was actually what was about to happen next which would shape and impact my ministry in a deeply profound way. 

Up got a minister based on a scheme in Scotland. I felt nervous for him as he began to share and wondered how it might be as significant as what we had just heard. I was shocked then when he started by saying that he too wanted to show us pictures of the precious stones that had appeared in his church. 

I was stunned. How was it my church was missing out on all the action? We were going to have to pull out all the stops during worship from now on.  Maybe there was a new chord we could discover or a guitar solo that might do the trick!?  

The images this church leader went on to proudly display on the screen floored me. He spoke with such joy and pride as he showed us picture after picture of people from his church family. He told us each of their stories, how as a church they had journeyed with them in addiction, through pain and suffering and how God was meeting with them in these tough places. It was beautiful.

The memory of this moment has never left me and has left me with a different perspective. I think about it often and it has often helped me to refocus my missional efforts towards people at times when I lose sight of what is important. 

You see even when we as a church have focused on doing good in our community, it is so easy for the projects we are running to become more important than the people we are hoping to point towards Christ. This can be an easy trap to fall into, especially in an under-resourced community when there is often such an overwhelming need that there are simply not enough projects, volunteers or resources to meet it.

The Apostle Paul, in one of my favourite passages of scripture, beautifully tells the people in Thessalonica that “we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”  The affection with which he talks about this group of people, who he both preached the gospel too and shared his life with, is compelling.

These people were Paul’s precious stones, the people whom he had invested his life in. He even asks them, “for what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”

It all leads me to think again, as I often do, about the Minister in Scotland and how one day he will stand before Jesus and his crown, his glory and his joy will be the people he showed me the pictures of that day.  It reminds me of the amazing people in my estate who I have the privilege to share both my life and the gospel with. And I look forward to the day when we stand before Christ and they too will be my great joy when I stand in God’s presence.

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