This is part of a syndicated series for Lent 2019 with Harvard’s Christian Journal Ichthus. Visit Ichthus at http://www.harvardichthus.org
By Trey Kinison, Branford ’20.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)
Dusty crypts, wooden chests, and Nicholas Cage. This is what comes to mind when I think of the word treasure. Yet when I read Matthew 6, I am reminded of the narrowness of such a definition. Rather than images of rubies and gold, Matthew calls forth an image of that which is vulnerable, that which the owner cannot protect, and that which even the moth can destroy. The concept of ownership is shattered and the fickleness of holding a firm grasp on the temporary is exposed. Amidst my incredibly limited view of time and my selfish desire to cling to what I feel I deserve, I have often found it much easier to deceive myself than to face this truth.
The reality is that it is much harder to picture treasure as the things that are close to my heart. The two numbers that define my academic performance, the one-page Word document that summarizes my achievements, and the 5-year plan built in my mind are much closer to my heart than any physical treasures I own. And when I attach my heart to something that does not completely fulfill, something that can always be topped or improved, then I will always be left desiring for more. Thankfully the sacrifice of Jesus and the love of God will never be topped or leave me unfulfilled.
This past week, I found myself in front of John Constable’s rendition of Hadleigh Castle. I instantly found myself gripped by the texture and the ruggedness of the landscape but most of all by the painting’s sense of earthly rebellion. The prior majesty of the castle is hinted to the viewer; however, the present reality, with a central breach running through the tower wall, could not be more different. One can only wonder what brought the castle to this state. Constable, who I assume knows this, places the self-sustaining, untamable wilderness right next to it as a reminder that whatever mankind tries to build, whatever I try to build, whatever you try to build in this earthly life will eventually come to ruin.
And so, I ask you: what is it that you are holding just a little too tight? What is it that would break you if the thief came in the night and took it? What makes you want to tear your clothes at the thought of it being torn down?
My hope is that one day these things would not grip me so tightly. That I may look upon the crumbling of my own Hadleigh Castle and smile, thinking of the fullness that Christ is bringing to replace it. For nothing I create will ever hold up to the beauty of what is coming and the fullness of communion with God made possible through Christ’s resurrection.