Thursday, July 7, 2011

Buried Treasure

It’s a modern day story from the likes of the Indiana Jones and National Treasure movies. Secret vaults were opened recently in a temple in India. Uncovered were a staggering amount of gold coins and statues of gods and goddesses studded with diamonds and other precious stones. An early and conservative estimate of the value of this discovery is growing beyond $22 billon. Over hundreds and hundreds of years, temple visitors and devoted followers have donated countless number of valuable items to the temple where a royal family has been charged as the temple custodian. A lawyer, who suspected there was a considerable amount of treasure hidden there, and who also was gravely concerned about the security of the temple and the valuables, won a court case ordering the vaults to be found and opened. The amount was far more than anyone guessed. As you can imagine, this discovery has spawned a massive debate regarding the treasure’s true ownership and what to do with the new found wealth.

Politicians, religious leaders, and historians have made a host of suggestions as to the future of the treasure. Of course, everyone has an opinion. Some believe the treasure should be handed over to the national trust, used to help alleviate poverty in India. Others believe that the government should use the funds for developmental purposes. Of course, both suggestions are raising distrust in the government’s motives. Some historians believe that the treasures should be stored and displayed in a museum because of the historical significance of the find.

But there was one more opinion I found very interesting in this story. One of the top elected leaders in that area believes the treasure should be left alone. "The treasures are the property of the temple. We will ensure the utmost security for the temple and its wealth," Chief Minister Chandy told reporters. In essence, his idea is to keep the treasure buried and hidden in the six discovered vaults. He vowed to provide adequate security of the temple if it was left as temple property. In a country riddled with impoverished areas, couldn’t that treasure be used in a productive way, rather than leaving it buried? Is that the best use of $22 billion? (Story adapted from, July 5,2011.)

Jesus once told a story of hidden treasure as well. In the story, before he leaves on a journey, the master entrusts some of his wealth to three servants. One gets five bags of gold, the second gets two and the last gets one. When the master returns, he gets a report from the servants about what they did with their stash. The first two report that they doubled their money, but the last servant says he just buried the gold in the ground because he was afraid. The first two servants get high praise as well as more responsibility from the master. But the last servant gets scolded and run out of town for being foolish with this opportunity. It seems, in the mind of the master, the very worst thing he could have done with the entrusted treasure was to bury it out of fear and excuses.

So, what treasures have you been entrusted with? Maybe you’re sitting on $22 billion that you need to figure out how to best use. No? Then, perhaps you have more than what’s in the temple in India. You have gifts, talents, and resources that have been uniquely entrusted to you by the God of the Universe. But these aren’t gifts to you, they are gifts to be used through you for others. These are the precious treasures that God uses to build his Kingdom. They are gifts of encouragement, hospitality, service, generosity, leadership, creativity, mercy, empathy, compassion, truth, discernment, and many more. To those who chose to shove their gifts under the ground, his words are harsh and filled with disappointment. The servant who buries his treasure eventually loses his opportunity to serve the Master. But when these gifts are used, the Kingdom looks like the Master. And the Master loves to express his pleasure. “Great job! You are a good and faithful servant! Here’s more!”

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