In my former parish there was an area called “Made Forever” where historically the miners of Kingswood discovered a really thick seam of coal unseen from above and unexpectedly discovered, the Miners said: “We are ‘Made Forever’” –hence the name!
Discovering treasure bellow the surface is part of the call of the Christian in partnership with our God.
When I was at theological college we all had roles and jobs within the community, mine was heading up the youth and children’s work that happened during our college worship times (which was a great job because I love doing youth and kids work and chapel services were normally pretty dire!). I used to joke that “in our groups you may well have the future Archbishop of Canterbury amongst the kids we serve, so you had better make sure you are nice to her!” (See what I did there!?)
We do not know what God is doing in the lives of those around us, we do not know the impact we are having, nor do we know the treasure within the lives of whom we encounter.
As I was thinking about my time in Cornwall and Devon I was inspired by the idea of discovering the gold, the treasure, in those around us.
As I thought about mission, and who we reach, I was reminded of a preacher called Mordecai Fowler Ham, not a house-hold name, but he had a reputation as a firey preacher, and a couple of girls wanted to see him and got a bit of a group together, but they needed someone to drive them there, so they asked a lad called Bill who had a truck. That lad was Billy Graham, who that evening gave his life to Jesus.
Through Billy Graham millions of people have heard the good news of Jesus Christ, and it all started with asking a farm lad a favour –would he mind driving a van for a few friends?
Perhaps the next Billy Graham might be saying that he met some a couple of random guys in a Park in Exeter? Or chatting to the Prians Angels who gave him a Bible (which he stuffed down his trousers)
We do not know what God might do with the people we meet and speak too, which I think is really exciting.
As I thought of rising up faithful followers of Jesus, I thought of my own life and thought of the number of people who had taken a risk on me, who had invested in me, challenged and encouraged me; I know that I needs on-going renewal, and as a broken and cracked person I need restoration. I love the idea of the Japanese who have a process called Kintsungi whereby they mend broken pots with melted gold that increases their beauty and their value.
I also thought of the work of God sanctifying each one of us, taking the Gold in our lives –the good stuff of his Kingdom- and purifying it –sifting our the dross. With God wanting to work through us we need to realise that he will also work in us, his spirit is described in scripture as a refiners fire, making us more like Jesus Christ in our character.
As I thought about reaching people, raises them up, restoring and refining them and releasing them with others to come together and transform the world.
Yet in transforming the world this is not a solitary activity, but rather the family business, we are (to use a phrase used by one of my former young people) “Team God” –God’s people together seeking to live out the Kingdom of God where-ever we go.
This challenges us as individuals to get ourselves ‘match-fit’ and on the front-line, but we are also challenged in how we live and work with other Christians corporately. Reminded of the acronym of TEAM –Together Everybody Achieves More- that God is at work through his people in reaching out, rising up, restoring, renewing and refining; as we long to see our returned to Christ.