The gold rush of 1849 spurred some 24000 people to migrate to California. Within the 6 years of mining that is attributed to that period, some 14 billion dollars worth of gold in 2006 economic standards was extracted from the area. People were happening upon economic freedom through natural resources. Then the resources were depleted and time went on.
Then came the cruel joke. A mineral called pyrite was discovered, which is of no value by economic standards. Yet, many people wasted time and effort in its pursuit.
There is a spiritual “fool’s gold” that I want to warn you about today.
Luke 7:1-10 When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
People today do not appreciate mass national diversity. Take a look at our world, our country for that matter. Back in Jesus’ time, it was no different. The Romans brought economic and political power to the Jewish world, and there were ethnic problems in general. The Jewish elders did not care for the Roman hierarchy, much less the lower ranks. But in this story we find two different views. First, Jesus was in the people business. His purpose was to love and restore relationship with the human race with God the Father. Second, the Jewish elders had high respect for this man and spoke favorably to Jesus for him. He had won over the Jewish men by his devotion to the nation and because he used the resources available to him to build the synagogue.
He was regarded as a good man.
He had a servant who had his respect and admiration, and was at death’s bed. This centurion realized the value this person had in his home, and was willing to humble himself to see his servant well. His compassion moved his heart and his actions.
He was regarded as a good man.
Jesus made the decision to follow those Jewish elders to the centurion’s home.
When this man realized that Jesus was on his way, his worthiness of having a man of God in his home overwhelmed him, and he intended to stop Jesus from coming. He understood authority being a man of Roman position, and acknowledged Jesus’ position in the spiritual realms.
Jesus is taken back at this man’s words. He had never seen Jesus. He had no first-hand experience of Jesus’ ministry. But it was only a matter of simple authoritative command in his mind.
No greater faith found in all Israel that was found in this man. his servant was healed, and I would be willing to assume that the servant was made whole in the moment that his master made the statement.
In man’s eyes, this centurion was a good man.
But, Jesus made a statement in Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19 that no one was good except God.
What did he mean in those words in the context of this scripture?
Good (adjective): promoting or enhancing well-being; having the normally expected amount; having or showing or arising from a desire to promote the welfare or happiness of others; with or in a close or intimate relationship; through; generally admired; resulting favorably; having desirable or positive qualitites especially those suitable for a thing specified; morally admirable; appealing to the mind; agreeable or pleasing; deserving of esteem or respect; financially sound; superior to the average.
Jesus was fully God, and yet fully man. Jesus recognized the fact that, though he had God’s heart and thoughts, human reasoning would distort his life. He knew in this moment of prideful exhibition that man would not realize Jesus’ good nature. So in that, with the understanding of what good means, he acknowledges that none are good but God alone, because when we stand in God’s presence in that day, we will know without fail that he is and was good, and that it is us that fall short.
But God can go past just that thought of in that day. He can reveal something to you that others have been yelling at you all along and suddenly you will get it, and your life will be forever changed. God holds all things in his hands. His Spirit unveils the covering over our eyes to allow us a glimpse of who Jesus is.
But we have a choice.
We can relocate our lives or our experience to this place or this time or this evangelist with the hope that we obtain some of what they have. And you know, that will sustain us for a brief season. Reflect back to the gold rush of 1849.
We can be so careless to think that our positive nature and attitude towards others will enhance our experience in this life and the life to come. We can go out of our way to do, and encourage, seek out through our own means and ways, without humbling ourselves before a God who can save us. Scripture spells that out as having a form of godliness, but denying his power. The world called it and still refers to such as fool’s gold. Worthless.
Or, we can recognize that God rewards those who diligently seek him. We can realize that, it is only through Christ that we have life and a future that is secure. We can acknowledge that the shed blood of Jesus and his redemptive work on the cross holds the keys that will unlock everything we need in this life. We can merge what we believe with what we do, and watch as life abounds.
If you believe that being good is attainable and acceptable, then what you have amounts to a lifetime of fool’s gold. God will not recognize your offering. You will have wasted everything afforded you for no good thing.
A good man will not make Heaven on that merit alone. A good servant will not receive the reward with the heirs just on the basis of his adherence to the rules. Good simply is not good enough.
Jesus said if you wanted to be called a Christian, then you must deny your will, your thoughts, your desires and your dreams, place them into his care, then dedicate your days to his will, his thoughts, his desires and his dreams.
If God is God, and he is, and if he is a good God, which he is, and if good means what it means, and it does, then don’t you think he knows what is best for you?