A couple of weeks ago I came to the church office to find that we’d been burglarized. It was mostly computers that were stolen; thankfully, the thieves left us our external hard drives. Nevertheless, the following week or so has kept me busy: talking to police, insurance people, church members, and even to some TV folks; keeping tabs on the losses (that I’m still discovering); replacing and setting up replacement equipment; and taking care of usual ministry.
But now that the biggest rush of activity is passed, I’ve had time to reflect on a few things that this incident brought to the fore.
Christ’s coming like a thief
As mentioned earlier, computers but not external hard drives were taken. This was good for some of us who were backed-up. This wasn’t as much of a blessing to others of us who were not backed-up. And if you weren’t backed-up—sorry, no do-overs. Should we have had an active alarm system? Yes, and we’re looking into that now—but it’s too late to prevent the previous break-in, and there’s no do-overs. If only we’d known that we were going to be robbed! We could have backed everyone up, we could have alarmed the system, put up lights in the dark corners of the property, etc. We should’ve known that this could happen. But the burglary is already done, and there’s nothing to do about it now but grieve the losses.
Similarly, Christ’s coming will be unexpected and there will be no do-overs. Well, let me slightly alter that last statement: Christ’s coming is expected, we do know that it will be happening. It’s only the specific date and time that won’t be announced. And once it happens there will be no do-overs, no “king’s X”, no “I really intended to…” excuses. There’ll be nothing to do about it but face the judgment and grieve the eternal loss.
It’s just material stuff
There’s another time Jesus mentions thieves: Matthew 6:19, 20 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.” As grieved and violated as the theft causes us to feel, the truth is that it is only stuff that is doomed to decay and theft anyway. I feel that way about electronic stuff anyway—that all my work can be too easily vaporized or wiped clean by a power outage, disk crash, electro-magnetic pulse. But the stark truth is that “temporary, corruptible, and steal-able” is the nature of this world (paper, coin, plant, animal, mineral, human, or digital), and we do well to not invest ourselves too much in them. They are, in the end, the food of rust and moths, or if they last very long, will be taken by someone else—not even the Pharaohs’ pyramids belong to them anymore. The only things from this world that will last—the only things—are the faith, obedience, generosity, kindness, courage, benevolence, love, and faithfulness we invest in eternity, our treasures in Heaven.