In the year 250 AD, the Roman Emperor, Decius, issued an edict ordering all citizens to perform a sacrifice to the gods in the presence of commissioners, and have it confirmed by a signed and witnessed certificate. It was intended to act as an Empire-wide loyalty oath. As you can imagine, vast numbers of Christians defied the government, many losing their lives and others being arrested. It became the first organised persecution of believers. During this time, the church in Rome had a huge crowd of widows, orphans, blind, lame, and sick folk in its care. The story is told that one of the city officials broke into the church and demanded that the congregation hand over its treasures to the state. Reportedly, Laurentius, the deacon, pointed to the crowd of poor, sick, maimed, and lonely people saying, “These are the treasures of the church.”
Such a heart-warming story must surely make us pause for reflection, challenging us to consider where we find our own treasure. Yahshua said, unequivocally, “…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” [Matthew 6:21]. We live in a time when personal worth is measured by income, bank balance, possessions; when billions of pounds are spent every year in pursuit of bodily perfection. Yet we still have poor, disadvantaged, lonely, sick people among us. Where are the treasures of your church? Where is your treasure?
The apostle John cautioned, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” [1 John 2:15]. Why would he write this way in a letter to believers? It is a universal truth that the thing which we value most will be the centre of our attention. Human nature has changed very little over the centuries, and it’s entirely possible for those who love Yahshua to be distracted by the ‘must haves’ of our generation. We may find our attention drifting towards a concentration on worldly advancements, our focus shifting away from its connection to Yahweh. This week take time to allow the beautiful story from the third century to serve as a reality check while you settle the question of where your treasure is.