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Treasures and Perspectives

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HEAVENLY TREASURES
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“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. … For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Mt 6:20–21; 6:32–33)

The word treasures is an interesting word, for it denotes that behind an object there is a certain value. Everything that we see around us has a certain money value to it: everything! It is a matter of knowing and discerning. The choice is always present: the pursuit of the present–temporary pleasures or the pursuit of the Kingdom. Pleasures for the long hall are not usually exciting. Only those who have eyes to see, mature in Christ, recognizes it. This leads me to the second.

HEAVENLY PERSPECTIVE
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“So we do not lose heart….For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Co 4:16–18)

Second, the things we suffer for the sake of Christ and, the prices that we pay for obedience that leads to conformity to Christ, are matters of perspective. If I set eternity before my eyes, the present affliction is light, transient and momentary. Therefore everything in our present is a dress-rehearsal. It is all preparation to be with God in the new heaven and new earth, our home of righteousness.

PRESENT REWARD
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“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings” (Php 3:8, 10-11)

Third, there is even greater treasure. The treasure of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. The above text does not say that the suffering of loss earns us the knowledge of Christ. Nonetheless, It says in and through them we partake Christ. Thus it is God-ordain means of maturity. If a penny investment would result in knowing something of immense riches, the investor would be too fool not to invest. If the present suffering– which is light and momentary when it is compared from that which is eternal– could be a means that God ordained to gain the knowledge of the Son of God, it would be foolishness not to carry my cross and follow my Lord. Why? Because this simple and intentional pursuit after the Crucified-Messiah, results in experiential knowledge of Him. What price could be too great If this act of obedience that simultaneously results in a bit of suffering (sometimes it could mean getting out of my comfort zone, could mean leaving vengeance to God, it could mean setting aside ambitions, etc…) and results in bringing me one step closer to knowing him truly and personally. If this is so, what price could I possibly assign to knowing him? But to simply let Christ purge me from that which wages war within me and let me know Him in the process. This is my blessed present possession: knowing Christ!

If I stop here, at best it is none-Christian sadistic pursuit. (More like a Buddhist’s belief in pain and reward in the afterlife as a painless existence: which they call Nirvana, ultimate goal of nothingness. This is what salvation is at least to the Mahayana Buddhism. Redemption is to feel no pain thus to be nothing). Christianity is radically different in its view of suffering. Christ has risen from the dead. He has triumphed and has seated at the right hand of glory. This means we experience the glorious power of God mediated through the person of the Holy Spirit who is indwelling in us personally and abiding among us corporately, even in the midst of suffering. This is the wonderful contradiction of our present life. It is so beautiful to those who know what it means. The reason we exuberant about suffering is not that suffering in itself is a badge of honor nor do we seek suffering for its sake. The New Testament pictures our present life context as suffering because we are strangers and sojourners in this world. It is not because we do not have pleasure, nor enjoy things in this life, nor we do not cherish success. Nevertheless, we suffer in light of eternity, because we live in the fallen world and fallen body that contradict everything we love and cherish, because we are living away bodily from the Lord, because we are waiting almost impatiently to our Lord- like a lover awaits his love. This is the overall picture. Those who pursue godliness will suffer.

“we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing [because we know] that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” Ro 5:3–4. We rejoice because we know even when we are seemed defeated we are victorious.

Why? Because our victory is not bound up with us. It is bound up with our Royal Priest-King Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:2.)

There is a common analogy given in New Testament studies (originated by a Swiss named Oscar Cullman) about this reality of the triumph of Christ as our present possession. He compares the position of the disciple of Jesus with that of a person living between D-Day (June 1944) and V-Day (Spring 1945) during World War II. These are the two victory days for World-War II. The Decisive-Day was when the allied troops invaded Europe and began to push the German army back to Germany. At this time everyone knew! The world knew and even Hitler knew that the war was over. The world knew who would triumph while Victory-Day was still ahead when they actually claimed victory. However Hitler and his allies didn’t admit defeat. It was during this period, knowing how the war would wind up, that millions of soldiers died and one of the bloodiest battle in all of the war combined fought. Thus the D-Day is past but V-Day is yet in the future when Christ returns. The crucial battle has been fought and won in the incarnation and the resurrection of our Lord. We know who holds history. We know how the end will come about. Not because we have a prophetic insight into the future. No! We know the end because we see Jesus the Christ, who have defeated the principalities and the powers and sat victoriously. He will complete it yet one more time. In the interim, there is a bloodiest warfare between the church as the arm of king Jesus and the dark powers of the demonic world. We war precisely because we know who will triumph. Thus, even when the saints are seemed to be defeated are mascaraed by the evil one, even then we sing “Kumbaya, my Lord!” or to be precise:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Re 5:13)

© 2015, Samson Tilahun. All rights reserved.

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