To my unbelieving friend:
There is a wondrous treasure buried within the New Testament.
Rumors of it reach your ears occasionally, its light glinting for the briefest of moments from beneath the religious dirt. The word “buried” is apt, for reading a massive text like the Bible feels much like digging. Without a map, it’s hard to know where to start. That’s one reason people rarely find it.
But it’s there. And the Apostle Paul says that if you knew what was inside, there’s nothing you wouldn’t sacrifice to find it.
Haven’t you ever asked yourself what Paul was so jazzed about, so obsessed about, that he would “consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” (Phillippians 3:8)? The man is either bonkers, or he knows something we don’t.
You’re probably thinking one of two things right now. One is, I’ve never heard Christianity described like that. It’s usually just a set of rules, a moral obligation to believe. No. It’s much more. Rules don’t get anyone out of bed in the morning. Paul speaks almost giddily of what he’s found, as if it’s a prize worth losing his very life to seize.
The other is, The prize is heaven, right? Cherubs on clouds with harps? May I say here that it’s tragic that religious imagery has distorted heaven like veal into a gross caricature. So bear with me if, although heaven is the greatest gain, and its true nature is far beyond our wildest dreams, I choose to speak of another treasure.
It is a secondary prize of Christianity, yet one the world itself is constantly chasing and has developed many counterfeits for, one that generates books and magazines and TV segments and entire industries and religions, and astonishingly, one that many of its Christian possessors don’t even know how to use.
It is the ability to become ironclad.
Here’s a map.