30 September 2016
Where does your treasure lie?
Haydon Spenceley is a musician, writer and a curate in the Church of England.
"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be" (Matthew 6:19-21).
Uncertain as I am as to whether or not the world needs another piece on Sam Allardyce this week, I can't escape it as I come to think about what to share with you all. I don't know whether you like, love, loathe or despise football. It's relatively likely that after the exploits of the now former national men's team manager came to light this week, most of us have had our positive feelings about the game shaken.
It's easy to become judgmental when stories like Allardyce's come to light. We think that we are above such seemingly naked greed, which led Allardyce to seek financial gain from inside information and exposed where his treasure lay. After all, faced with similar circumstances, we know we would have made the morally more acceptable choice, right? Right?
We've been in Church long enough to know passages like the one I've quoted above and to know that we wouldn't fall into a similar trap. We know that winning at all costs is not necessary for us, that we don't store our treasures in earthly gain but in heaven. More than that, we've been living in the knowledge and wisdom of God and His love for long enough to have our hearts aligned and inclined in the direction they were designed to be.
Hopefully so, but as the genesis of this piece came to me somewhere around 400 metres into a 600 metre swim yesterday – it's when I do most of my best thinking these days - led me to wondering whether some of us as Christians haven't fallen for a different kind of 'win at all costs' mentality. As a Church of England curate, I've caught myself adding or diminishing my own sense of worth or value on the basis of the size of the congregation on a Sunday, or the size of the offering, with my feelings of success or failure largely predicated on their size, or lack of. I've been tempted to seek opportunities to secure more influence, greater recognition, or my own personal favourite (or biggest failing) the need to be seen as theologically right or sound.
This might not resonate with you. In some ways I hope it doesn't and I'm something of an outlier. The truth of it is though that the temptation to seek comfort or validation from the things around us, whether they be money, status, physical safety or anything else, if they take the place of trusting God in Christ, then we are in serious trouble.
We're never beyond the reach of God's mercy. The way that we can be pulled this way and that in thinking that if we just had more money, more security, better health, then we'd be ok and then we could trust God, I believe, is a challenge to all of us as we look at this story this week.
We were born to live with and to worship God, with how we live our lives, with the kind of people that we are. Our heart is designed to be with Him. He is the treasure that will satisfy. Ultimately, the only treasure that can do so.
Are we willing to suspend judgement against what we see going on around us and first to ensure that our own lives, our Church communities, offer an alternative that shows not only that we have the treasure that we need, but that we are satisfied with it, too?
We don't need to win at all costs. God invites us to live in such a way as to show that contentment is possible, when we know where our hearts, and our treasure, reside.
Image: CC Infuse