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Treasure In the Trash

Steve Goodier reminds us there are times when what needs to change worse than anything on earth is our own attitude. He writes, "Both the hummingbird and the vulture fly over our nation's deserts. All vultures see is rotting meat, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But humming-birds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do" (Quote Magazine, in May, 1990 Reader's Digest). Goodier's words help explain why some people love the church and others loathe it. There can be rotten things at church that need fixing. Rotten shepherds who don't watch after the sheep and rotten deacons who don't deke and rotten preachers who don't preach. And rotten church members who seem unfriendly and don't speak and seem snooty and uppity and cliquish. Some church members don't just seem that way —same really are that way! Not to mention all the rotten, smelly things said and done in the past. Yep. There is almost always something rotten going on down at church. But, thank God, there are also colorful blossoms filled with sweetness and nectar that nourish and encourage. There are good people who, following in the footsteps of Jesus (however imperfectly), are doing many good things as they sincerely seek to bring honor and glory to God through worship and ministry and fellowship. The question facing all of us is whether we are content to be buzzards who feed on a steady diet of rotten, stinky stuff, or will we learn to live in and love the church as she is even as we strive together to make her better?

In 1995, -Craig Randall, a 23-year-old trash collector in Peabody, Massachusetts, noticed a Wendy's contest cup sitting in some garbage he was collecting. "I won a chicken sandwich the week before," he told reporters, "and I figured, hey, I'd get some fries to go with it." Instead, when he peeled off the sticker he saw, "Congratulations. You have won $200,000 towards a new home" (p 86, Uncle John 's Ultimate Bathroom Reader, vol.8). Randall literally found treasure in the trash. Treasure in the trash —that might be a pretty accurate way to describe the situation at church. A group of flawed, imperfect sinners who sometimes make mistakes and fail. But sitting in the pews are people whom, because of Christ God describes as "those who are in Christ Jesus, called to be saints. . .enriched in everything...blameless...called into the fellowship of Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:2, 5, 8, 9). Down at church there is always treasure and there is always trash. The truth is, just like the vulture and the hummingbird, each member finds what he/she is looking for. We really do. Regarding the Lord's church, are you looking for the treasure or the trash?

Dan Gulley
church of Christ
Smithville, Tennessee