WHAT would you do if US$69 million was sitting in your attic?
Well, on November 11th, 2010, a Chinese vase sold at auction for US$69 million! And…wait for it, the urn had been sitting in the attic in a house owned by a brother and sister in Pinner, a suburb of London, England, for years! It was only discovered during a routine house clearance. The brother and sister were stunned when it sold for a world-record-breaking US$69 million! The eighteenth-century piece of Qianlong era porcelain had been expected to fetch between $1 million and £1.5 million when it went under the hammer. The vase was believed to have been acquired by an English family during the 1930s or earlier. The auctioneer, Bainbridges said how it reached northwest London would never be known.
According to The Harrow Times (London), the owners, who had inherited the urn, had little or no idea of the fortune it would make them when they found it. The vase is understood to have been carried off by a private buyer from China for what is believed to be the highest sum for any Chinese artwork ever sold at auction. Its eye-watering price shocked both the auctioneer and the owners. Helen Porter of Bainbridges said: “They had no idea what they had. They were hopeful but they didn’t dare believe until the hammer went down. When it did, the sister had to go out of the room and have a breath of fresh air.”
Can you imagine having a treasure worth a life-changing US$69 million and leaving it to rot away in your attic? The simple reason why this vase sat in the attic all those years until it was discovered is ignorance! True, no one knew the vase’s true value until it went under the hammer. However, the truth is that the brother and sister did not become millionaires the day the Chinese vase was sold on that cold November morning at auction in Ruislip, West London. They became multimillionaires the very day they inherited the property with all its contents. The fact that they did not know that they owned such a treasure is irrelevant!
“How does this apply to me as a born again Christian?” you might ask. In every way! In case you didn’t know, the single most important reason why Christians do not exert or make use of their entitlement in Christ Jesus is ignorance, or as the Bible puts it beautifully, “lack of knowledge.”
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Did you notice that the Bible passage in Hosea actually says, “My people are destroyed”? It is God’s people, God’s children—not unbelievers, not the dying world, but his own people whom he has redeemed unto himself by the precious blood of Jesus—who are being destroyed, wiped out, defeated, and crushed! Why would God’s chosen people be destroyed? The simple answer is because they are either too busy to read and study the Scriptures or they are not interested in reading or studying the Scriptures, and as a result, they demonstrate an embarrassing lack of knowledge and understanding.
The word “destroyed” here connotes defeat in all its ramifications: shattered dreams and a life ruined. It also denotes bondage or slavery to sin, as well as an inability to achieve anything in life. The word “destroyed” signifies a life of poverty and lack, a lack of fulfilment, and an inability to either discover or fulfil one’s purpose in life.
The tragedy—I would even say the catastrophe—of life in this day and age is that God’s people simply do not know who they are in Christ Jesus. They go through life trying to be somebody else and living a lie. One of the tricks of the enemy is to keep them from the knowledge of this vital truth, to keep them from understanding the power and purpose of salvation. It is crucial to know who we are and what we have in Christ. This knowledge is freely available to us in the pages of Scripture. For the Christian, ignorance is not bliss; it is negligence and carelessness. It is lacking earnestness; it is grief.
“As hunger is cured by food, so ignorance is cured by study.”
The question that comes to mind is, of course, “How do we acquire this knowledge and this understanding?” Or in the words of the Chinese proverb, how does a person cure ignorance? The short answer is that it comes by revelation through the study of the Scriptures. It is for those who are prepared to do that little bit extra which distinguishes them from ordinary folk and makes them extra-ordinary; those who want to draw close to God; those who long to know God, his ways, his principles; those who desire God more than their necessary food; those who thirst for righteousness; those who are really serious about finding God and want him more than anything else (Jeremiah 29: 13 – 14, TM)
To put it differently, this essential knowledge is only available to those who call out to God . . . those who dig deep.
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and billows have gone over me.
Knowledge is available to those who A-S-K; i.e., those who ask, seek, and knock. The reason is uncomplicated. As we are told in Matthew 7: 7, when you ask with anticipation you receive; when you seek wholeheartedly you find; when you knock persistently the door is opened. There must be faith, desire, and perseverance. The combination is unstoppable.
However, it is not enough merely to ask, seek, and knock. You must also retain. You must receive with thanks and appropriate what you are given. You must hold on to what you find and exercise what you possess. When the door is opened, you must enter in expectantly. ‘But how?’ I hear you ask. By verbalising the truth. By acknowledging that it is yours. By speaking it into your situation and circumstances. By letting the Word of God become flesh to you and allowing it to be a part of your daily routine and everyday life.
The apostle Paul puts it superbly in his epistle to Philemon in the Bible book of the same name:
That the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
The Word of God can be real to you. All the resources of heaven are at your disposal. God has given you all things to enjoy in Jesus Christ. However, you have a part to play. Only you can determine how far you go with God. God is willing and able to go with you all the way. Are you ready to walk with Him? The ball is in your court.