When I was a kid, I was bewitched by valuable coins, eagerly collecting any I could find in loose change and spending some of my very limited supply of money on collecting them. Through a mail order company I had received 4 coins as part of a “Giant Grab Bag” of coins. One of them was ½ dollar gold piece, which my friend’s Redbook coin guide said was worth $100. When I got up the nerve to take it to a coin dealer one day, he told me it was worthless. Stunned by disbelief, I nervously waited another 10 minutes and asked him, “How much did you say this was worth?”
Again, I got the answer: “Nothing.”
It turns out it was just a worthless replica. My treasure was really trash.
Like me, men have often sought their treasure in gold. One day in 1848 at John Sutter’s sawmill, his contractor and builder, James W. Marshall came to him, seeking a secret meeting. At the meeting, he took a rag from out of his pocket and flashed something quickly to Sutter. After testing and finding that the secret in the handkerchief was indeed gold, Sutter told his workers to keep it quiet for 6 weeks so he could properly secure the necessary property on which the gold had been found.
Unfortunately for Sutter, the secret got out, his workers abandoned his mill for gold, and the rest is history. Sutter himself wrote: “What a great misfortune was this sudden gold discovery for me! It has just broken up and ruined my hard, restless, and industrious labors, connected with many dangers of life, as I had many narrow escapes before I became properly established. From my mill buildings I reaped no benefit whatever, the mill stones even have been stolen and sold.”
He died a poor man in Pennsylvania. And Marshall, the man who first discovered the gold? After attempting to milk his fame in various ways over the year, he died a bitter and not particularly rich man.
So much for earthly treasure.
But here in the book of Colossians, St. Paul wants the Colossians and Laodiceans (and I’m sure he’d want you included, too) to attain “to all the riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (verse 2.)
The truth is that true treasure is found in Jesus Christ, who is the source of true riches and in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The riches contained in Jesus Christ are beyond compare, but even as Christians we often undervalue them.
There was a Monty Python’s sketch in which a Hungarian goes into a tobacconist’s shop, asking, “I weeel not buy theeese record – eeet eeez scratched.” The tobacconist finally figures out that what he really he wants is some cigarettes. Next, the Hungarian says, “My hovercraft is full of eels.” After the Hungarian acts out striking a match, the tobacconist discovers what he really wants is matches. It turns out that someone had purposely written a Hungarian-English dictionary with maliciously erroneous information.
We’ve been sold a similar price guide, in which some of the information is incorrect. It reads something like this:
weekend of leisure 40 hours of work
newer, fancier car debt
bigger, better house more debt
infatuation broken relationships, adultery, divorce
God 1 hour a week and a few dollars in the plate
But Jesus Christ is God Himself, and in Him are hidden all the heavenly treasures. In Him is heaven itself. In Him is the infinite wealth of God’s inheritance that the Father offers to mere men. This wealth, this treasure is unimaginable, and yet it is easily missed in this world. I find that discovering the treasure of Christ is like the Kingdom parables that liken the Kingdom of Heaven to some slow process of growth. To me, the Kingdom of Heaven is like an invisible goldmine that is first manifested, to the one who has chosen to work in it, by a few small flakes in a creek. The worker through diligence and patience discovers a few more flakes and begins to seek to be closer to the source. Eventually, he discovers that the gold is more abundant in the earth itself, and he begins the serious work of digging. Occasionally, he finds a nugget of great value that encourages him in his hard labors. Over time, he establishes a gold mine and works diligently and regularly so that he can continue to find greater and greater treasure.
The Bible is, in fact, a goldmine in which the immeasurable treasure of Jesus Christ may be found. Even in this one small passage of Colossians, there are treasures galore, waiting to be discovered and re-discovered.
Here are just a few for you to meditate on and appreciate:
1:18 Jesus Christ is the head of the church
1:20-22 Jesus Christ has brought peace to the world through the Cross,
through which He will also make you blameless and holy
1:24 Like Christ and Paul, we are to rejoice in our sufferings
1:25-29 We are stewards of God’s mysteries and riches
2:1-2 All the riches of the world and treasure of wisdom is hidden in Jesus Christ
Each one of these nuggets of the wisdom of Christ is so valuable that it would be worth devoting an entire day to seeking and enjoying Jesus Christ through it. It reminds me of the hymn, “O Word of God Incarnate”:
O Word of God incarnate, O Wisdom from on high,
O Truth unchanged, unchanging, O Light of our dark sky:
We praise You for the radiance that from the hallowed page,
A Lantern to our footsteps, shines on from age to age.
The Church from You, our Savior, received the Gift divine,
And still that Light is lifted over all the earth to shine.
It is the sacred Vessel where gems of truth are stored;
It is the heaven drawn Picture of Christ, the living Word.
Some men seek their treasure in the things of the earth, but our treasure is in Jesus Christ. If you want to be truly wealthy and wise, then seek Him.
The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill by a single man, James W. Marshall, created a Gold Rush that helped create modern-day California and still reverberates as an icon in our culture.
But the discovery of Jesus Christ by a single person ought to set off a God Rush in America. But it hasn’t.
The sad truth may be that we are simply not as excited about God as we are about gold. If this is true in your life, it’s time to burn your old price guide and trade it in for God’s price guide: the Bible.
Your rush, as a Christian, should be to attain “to all the riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Prayer: Praise be to You, Father, because You have made all Your fullness to dwell in Your Son; Praise be to You, Son, because You have made peace with the Father and reconciled all things through Your death and resurrection; Praise be to You, Holy Spirit, because through You I am able to discover and enjoy the heavenly treasure that is Jesus Christ. Amen.
Points for Meditation:
1. Share the news of your discovery of the treasure of Jesus Christ with someone today.
2. Meditate on how you may have a false price guide in your life. Choose one item whose value you will reappraise in relation to the true treasure of Christ.
Resolution: I resolve to seek the treasure of Jesus Christ today by meditating on one verse or passage from the Bible throughout the day.
© 2012 Fr. Charles Erlandson