I like to think of the gospel like a bag filled with treasure. But some of the Gospel’s treasures seem relatively ordinary.
An ordinary treasure? Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction? How can something that is a “treasure” also be “ordinary”? Easy. It happens all the time.
Have you ever studied a blade of grass? At first glance, it’s nothing special. Just a flat and fairly straight piece of vegetation. Look more closely, though, and you’ll see the veins running up the blade, the frayed edges at the top from the last time you mowed, the delicate way it bends slightly to one side. Place that same piece of grass under a microscope and you’ll see even more: an entire grass universe will open up before you—cells, chloroplasts, molecules, atoms, neutrons, electrons, and so on. Each level giving way to another. Press deeply enough and you’ll arrive at depths of reality only dimly understood by our most brilliant scientists—quarks, antiquarks, leptons, strings. Can you get much more ordinary than a blade of grass? Yet, when we look closely, we begin to realize that what seemed so normal and non-mysterious a moment ago actually contains limitless mystery, wonder, and awe. But how often do we do that? Grass is “normal,” and normal things are not mysterious. Normal things are not treasures. Normal things are, well, normal.
Some Gospel treasures are like a blade of grass. We see them so regularly that they’ve become ordinary, almost boring.
Jesus loves me.
On one level this is a pretty straightforward statement. Almost simplistic. Jesus does love me. He loves me very much. But press a little harder and you begin to see the wonder, mystery, and awe lying just beneath the surface.
Who is Jesus? That question alone would take an entire book to answer. Messiah. Savior. God. Man. Son of God. Servant.
Who am I? Creature. Image of God. Sinner. Saint. Person. Man. What does this all mean?
And what is love, not just the broken, human love that I’m familiar with, but real love? What does it mean to say that God himself loves? And what does it mean to say that the almighty, holy God of the universe loves tiny, broken, rebellious creatures like us? Talk about mystery.
Jesus loves me.
A childlike statement of simple faith? A profound declaration of mysterious wonder? Both. Viewed under the microscope, a whole universe unfolds. A universe that we have just begun to explore.
If parts of the Gospel have become “normal” for you, then I encourage you to take some time to see the mystery again.
Even the ordinary can be a treasure.
[This is an excerpt from my book Good News for the Living Dead: A Fresh Take on the Gospel Story.]