THE GREATEST DISCOVERY
Not many people today will remember who Bob Bishop is but pretty much everyone who knows anything about football will know the person that he discovered. Bob Bishop was a Manchester United scout throughout the 50s and 60s. One day, having watched a certain 15-year-old school boy from East Belfast play, Bob sent the following message to the manager of Manchester United, Matt Busby. “I think I’ve found you a genius.” This genius was George Best, a player who went on to become one of the finest footballers ever. The story resonates with us because like many great stories it taps into an excitement that we have when we think of what it would be like to come across hidden treasure. Treasure Island, Aladdin, The Hobbit - they all have at their heart an ordinary person who finds a great treasure and is never the same again. In some ways this is a longing that we all have in life. You could say that we are all treasure seekers. We all have an idea of what is valuable
and we spend great energy pursuing it. It may be sporting success, or a thriving career, perhaps it is material success or success in friendships or love. All of these are good things - that is why we desire them - but are we right to make them our treasure? In Matthew 13:45-46 Jesus tells the story of a businessman who trades pearls. One day he finds a pearl so big and flawless that its value is greater than all the pearls he has ever found put together. He sells his entire business just to purchase it, it is the find of a lifetime. The punch line of this story is quite remarkable as Jesus says that this is what the ‘kingdom of heaven’ is like! The ‘kingdom of heaven’ is a phrase Jesus often used to describe what it means to live under God’s authority and with His transforming power in your life. When Jesus uses this phrase He is saying, “imagine what God’s perfectly good rule and power could achieve… in your life... in the world”. No wonder He implies we should give up everything to get this treasure.
It would be understandable if you were skeptical. We have become so used to leaders, whether club managers or politicians, promising much but failing to deliver. Is Jesus just another spin-doctor? Take a look at His life in the eye witness accounts of the New Testament. He was perfectly good. He was astonishingly kind so that even the most broken people in society flocked to Him but He was not weak - He challenged the corrupt and spoke out against injustice. He said “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” and then He backed His words up by living this out, even to the point of praying for those who crucified Him, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” He was also perfectly powerful. He could heal the sick with a touch, raise the dead with a word and calm a storm in an instant. Throughout His life He did the most astonishing miracles, even rising from the dead. Jesus Christ showed perfect power and perfect goodness. The truth is that Jesus Christ was showing us what God is really like, infinitely good and infinitely powerful.
What is odd then is that we do not want to have His loving authority in our lives. We think to live under such authority would be oppressive and restrictive, and so we value other things above God. When we turn away from God we do not turn to nothing, instead we turn to anything else. We make our sport into a God-substitute giving it ultimate importance in our lives, or we do this with popularity, our socialnetwork or having the right image. These things become our treasure even though God should be. That is why Jesus did not come just to show us His power and goodness but He came to die for us. His life was all about His death because it is through His death that He pays for the way that we have not lived under Godâ€™s perfect rule. In our lives we have put other things in the place of God, but on the cross Jesus takes our place to put God back at the centre of our lives. This is why He can have the audacity to say that living under His perfect and loving rule is the find of a lifetime. Some great stories have an ordinary person who discovers treasure and is never the same again. Jesus is this treasure and if you discover Him you will never be the same. Have you found this treasure? Are you prepared to give up everything to get it?
Let me briefly suggest three ways that you may want to respond as you think this through. First, if you have already found this treasure then it is worth asking whether the gratitude in your life reflects the magnitude of this gift? Familiarity can breed contempt (or at least a lack of wonder); maybe it is time to rediscover the thankfulness you once had. Second, this may be the first time you have read something about Jesus Christ. Surely His claim if it has even the slightest hint of truth in it requires further investigation? Why not ask a Christian friend how you can find out more, or start reading one of the eye witness accounts in the New Testament? Perhaps start with Matthew who records this parable we have been looking at. Finally, it may be that as you have been reading this you have felt persuaded. Perhaps you already know who Jesus Christ is and what His life and death achieved but you have been putting it off. Maybe you are aware that you are pursuing the wrong treasure and you want to change. Responding is simple. Jesus rose from the dead and so He is alive today. Because He is God He can always hear us, so we can talk to Him out loud or in our hearts, which the Bible calls prayer. Why not ask Him to help you to make Him your treasure?
Here is a short prayer that does just that. Jesus Christ I acknowledge that I have lived with other things as my treasure and not you. I am sorry for rejecting your perfect and loving rule of my life. Thank you for dying in my place so that I might be forgiven. Please help me to give up whatever it takes to follow you and help me to make you my treasure. Amen. If you have prayed this prayer for the first time then why not to tell someone about it? Those who live under Jesus Christâ€™s rule are His family and so we help one another to follow Him. Why not speak to a Christian you know and ask them to help you take things forward? Above all though keep Jesus Christ as your treasure for He is the pearl of great price.
Watch the film at christiansinsport.org.uk/thegreatestdiscovery
â€˜Christians in Sportâ€™ @CIS_UK