In a discreet (I’d like to think) spot beside the steps to the backyard sits a big black toolbox made of an indestructible plastic resin. It slid around in the back of my truck, carrying extension cords and pneumatic hoses, for years. Among the things presently inside it are: an aluminum clamp light, a concrete trowel, a quarter bag of charcoal, Azalea/rhododendron food, and a strange bicycle seat that consists of two independent oval buttock pads (patent pending, I’m sure).
Where your treasure is, I’ve been told, there your heart is also. Looking into that old black box, I wonder, “Is my heart, or some small assortment of its contents, in there?”
This is an odd question to ask. But even if this particular container is just where the last things from our garage in Little Rock ended up, they still ended up here rather than in the dumpster. I chose them, even if I’d like to blame an unfortunate genetic predisposition for saying, “You know, I might be able to use that thing sometime…”
Christianity has always been incarnational. Which means Christians have always struggled to keep our spiritual lives grounded in the physical world. Jesus touched people, wiped mud on blind eyes, received an anointing with a pungent perfume. He invited Thomas to put his hand in his wounded side. The life of the spirit was not a life free of the body, for Jesus or for his Church.
So, when he told us not to store up treasures on earth but to store up treasures in heaven, I don’t think he was dismissing or diminishing life among things and bodies and money and the rest of the stuff of the material world. He was teaching us to be in right relationship with it all. And if our treasure, if our deepest value, rests too heavily or too desperately in things that are perishing and passing away, we won’t live with them or with one another in abundant ways.
Houses and cars and clothing will never bring us joy if we need them to announce to ourselves and to the world who we wish we were. And there will never be enough money to bind up our insecurities or calm our fears.
On one hand, annual giving time at Calvary is simply planning as a community for the year to come. What is God calling Calvary to do and be? And, therefore, what can each of us contribute to support our living into that call?
But this season is also an opportunity to look in on our lives and wonder, “What do the ways I spend my money and my time say about what my heart really treasures? What do the things that I own and buy and take care of and give away tell me about what I truly love?”
I think Jesus tells us that we have a tendency to kid ourselves about what we treasure. Where your treasure is, there your heart is also. Which means that if I pretend to treasure one thing when I truly treasure another, I’ve lost touch with my own heart. There’s a division in me between who I wish I was and who I am. Jesus wants to close that gap.
So, I’m thinking about annual giving a little differently this year, and I invite you to do the same. I want this to be a season in which the Calvary community joins me in looking at our lives, our priorities, and our treasures and asking honestly what we see. What story emerges about what matters most to each of us? Is it a story of finding security only in what we store up? Or is it a story of people living generously and free, passing on the gifts and goodness we receive?
I’ve lifted the lid on the old black box by the stairs, and I know there really is a bit of my heart’s story in there. But maybe in this annual giving season, grounded in the encompassing story of redeeming grace, you and I will learn to grasp things that are passing away a little less tightly. Because as we do, Jesus promises, we get back the lives we were made for. As we do, Jesus says, we live a little more fully in the goodness that is eternal.