1.21.2011

Antiques Roadshow: How Much is My Dusty Old Stuff Worth?

The TV program Antiques Roadshow, or as we call it in our family, "How Much is My Dusty Old Stuff Worth?", is fascinating on a number of levels.

Usually, you see a very average-looking person sitting there at the table on side, and a snooty, condescending antiques collector on the other. British accents are especially appropriate in these situations. The item in question sits on a table in the middle. Baseball cards, a hand-woven Indian rug, art-deco jewelry, pirate swords, you name it.

The snooty collector always asks Joe Schmo where he got the item, and Joe launches into a story of humble origins. "My grandma just always had it sitting in her house. Who knows where she got it?" Or, "When I was a kid, I played with another kid whose grandfather gave this to our family." Or even, "I found it in the trash."

Then, the snooty collector demonstrates that he knows everything that could ever be known about the thing. He notes its unique characteristics, he elaborates on the history of the period, he talks at length about why collectors would be interested in that particular piece. This goes on for several minutes. You're sitting there at home, watching the show, wondering how this man knows all that stuff, and wishing he would just hurry up so we can all find out how much the thing is worth. Joe is sitting there patiently too, but you know he's thinking the same thing.

Finally, the moment of truth. A little animated treasure chest flies across the screen to the sound effect of Tinkerbell's magic pixie dust, and we are all shocked to find out that the old red Chinese vase is from the Qing Dynasty and is worth $30,000-$50,000.

All eyes are on Joe...what will he do with this newfound knowledge? Most people aren't sure how to respond at that point. Their eyes get wider, and they smile and say, "Wow." Quietly.

You never see them jump out of their chair, put both hands down on the table, and truly react. "WHAT? You are KIDDING me! That old ugly thing?? No WAY!" You know that's what they really want to do. But they're on TV with a snooty collector, so they try to be cool about it. Inside though, they are exuberant, astonished that the dusty old piece of junk that's been in somebody's house for years is actually a treasure. And it's theirs.

I don't think I have any hidden treasures in my house.

Or do I?

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 says this: "We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies."

Believers in Christ are dusty, fragile jars on the outside...acutely aware that we are only formed from the dust, sitting on a table in front of a world who doesn't think we are worth much. But the reality is quite different. Christ in us is the great treasure, the power from God and not from ourselves. His love for us takes us by surprise. His love is what brings about the realization that we do have worth. His love for us enables even fragile jars to persevere in the hardest of times.

So...there is a hidden treasure inside those who are in Him. It came to us at a great price, one that could never be measured or evaluated in human terms.

It's the light of Christ within.

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