A suitcase containing nearly one million Australian dollars was left in a Sydney restaurant last week by a “really nervous” man, who was later arrested by police. He was then taken to hospital for unspecified treatment, while being kept under police guard. The legal owner of the money is as yet unknown.
Two thousand years ago, Yeshua (Jesus) told a story about a merchant who didn’t lose everything, but who sold everything to gain just one very valuable pearl. We, who seek spiritual meaning and fulfilment in our lives, are likened to that merchant, who gave his all to possess this most beautiful treasure. The pearl, of course, represents Yeshua himself.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Matt. 13:45-46)
A personal relationship with Yeshua is the world’s most valuable possession. Beyond cost, it cannot be bought; it cannot be earned. It is a free gift given by Yeshua to all who are prepared to humble themselves and put their trust in Him. His love, acceptance and forgiveness are the only possible things we can take with us into eternity. The jazz singer, Helen Shapiro, who herself came to trust Yeshua as Messiah and Saviour, sang of Him as “Eternity’s Treasure – the Pearl!”
According to a United Nations report, the world’s estimated population has now reached 7 billion. How do we react to this news? Are we positive, negative, hopeful or apathetic? Do we look forward to how we can make the most of this situation? The report, State of World Population 2011, says this is not a time of crisis but a time for action.
“The world’s population is going to continue to grow and we may as well be prepared for it.” says Richard Kollodge, the report’s editor. He takes a very pragmatic approach. “We may as well make sure that as many people as possible are healthy, that as many people as possible have access to education. … We have a chance right now in our world of seven billion to build a more stable, more socially just world by the time we reach 10 billion but that requires us to act now.” (The U.N. estimates the world population will reach 10 billion by 2083.)
It’s true that population growth brings massive challenges include the huge inequalities across the world in access to food and water, housing and work. One often hears the comment that we have enough food to feed the world; the problem is that we just don’t share it. It is thought that already approximately 90% of the world’s population has little or no access to fundamental goods and services. The report also calls for predicted water shortages to be addressed now, and warns that better urban planning is needed as cities continue to grow.
On another level, as one individual in a crowd of 7 billion, how do we find our significance? If I was the only person in the world my existence would be hugely significant, but how can one matter amongst so many? It was Jesus who said that each one of us is so important to God that He even knows how many hairs we have on our head. In fact if I, or you, had been the only wrongdoer on the planet, Jesus would still have come to give His life as a ransom; so that I, or you, may be free to know God’s love and acceptance, a relationship with our Creator, the One who planned our existence before the world began.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)