"Discovering Our Hidden Treasure”

Sermon Delivered By Rev. Dick Stetler – July 27, 2014

Centenary United Methodist Church

Psalm 105:1-9; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-46


    I have always been attracted to stories of treasure hunters and the loot they have recovered from sunken ships lying on the ocean floor.  Recently, Bermuda has been treated to several lectures on such search and recovery efforts.  The most recent occurred this month when Dr. David Saul discussed the recovery of gold and silver from the SS Central America that sank in a perfect storm off the coast of North Carolina on September 12, 1857.  He delivered his thoughts at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on July 18.  Dr. Saul is the co-owner and Director of the Odyssey Marine Exploration Company.  

    In an earlier venture, Dr. Saul’s company recovered 110 tons of silver bars from another sunken vessel, a treasure that was valued at 64 million dollars.  During his lecture on July 18, our former Premier told the audience that his company recovered 43 gold bars, 1,300 twenty dollar double-eagle gold coins and thousands of other gold and silver coins that were scattered over the debris field located at a depth of 7,300 feet.   He estimated this recent find to be worth “tens of millions of dollars.” 

    There is mystery, intrigue and adventure experienced by those who search for lost treasure.  If you spoke to Dr. Saul with the thought that he was a modern-day Indiana Jones, he would tell you about the boring months spent on the paper work, the countless approvals, the waiting time for permits to be granted and the down-time for his crew.  

    In our lesson today, Jesus was sharing his knowledge of a power within us that can literally change average people into super heroes.  While explaining this to his listeners, Jesus told of the excitement that comes when a person finds buried treasure.  The finder’s heart quickens as he tries to conceal from others the excitement of his find.  He carefully covers up the treasure, quietly sells everything that he has and discreetly buys the field.” (Matthew 13:44)        

    In a similar fashion, Dr. Saul did the same thing.  When he spoke about his adventure that Wednesday night, this was the first time that a public announcement was made on the results of the Odyssey’s recovery efforts.  Up until that time, recovery efforts had been kept secret.  

    We may not be able to equate the recovery of gold and silver from a ship wreck with the buried treasure within ourselves, because spiritual development is not near as exciting as the discovery of 64 million dollars worth of silver ingots.  People’s eyes get big when someone is talking about finding gold bars, but they yawn and almost lose consciousness when someone is talking about spiritual power.  I guess many of us would rather feel the power of having material wealth than the power to be happy, peaceful and confident every day of their lives.

    What Jesus was doing was comparing buried treasure to the power inside of a seed.  Any seed represents potential.  He taught that inside a seed is a large tree which can become a grove of trees. (Matthew 13:32)  His listeners were clear on Jesus’ illustration. However, this same group of listeners was not able to apply his image to their inner-world. 

    Think about the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. As a little boy, he knew that he had a gift.  He was a visionary with a vivid imagination.  He had dreams of the future and knew how to interpret their meaning. He also knew that this skill and ability made him different from his brothers.

    A short time after he told several of his visions to his half-brothers, they planned to get rid of him. The list of Joseph’s sudden life changes is legendary.  After his brothers sold him as a slave to a passing caravan, he had to face a very attractive married woman that tried to seduce him.  When she failed, Joseph was put into prison when this same woman accused him of trying to rape her.   While in prison, he was forgotten.

    Every sudden change to the flow of his life was interpreted as an opportunity to make his spirit shine.  None of his experiences created remorse, bitterness or thoughts of being abandoned by God.  How come?  Joseph had found the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in the field and the seed that would become an infinite number of forests.

    He accepted each experience that showed up in his life without judgment, and that decision placed him at the right place at the right time when Pharaoh needed Joseph’s services to interpret the ruler’s dreams.  This is a life strategy that we seldom use.  We make judgments of what is good or bad and we often bring a swift response before we know where what is happening might lead us.

    In Joseph’s situation, his orientation toward life finally produced the wealth he was not even seeking. He became the second in command in the most powerful nation in the ancient world.  Everything that came up in Joseph’s life was looked upon as preparation for a destiny he could not see. (Genesis 45:5)  He saved his people from starvation.    

    The German poet, Goethe understood this inner treasure and how it can be activated.  Goethe discovered why and how such a powerful treasure can dramatically transform people.  This is what Goethe wrote:

Until a person is committed to an idea, there is hesitancy.  Many people keep remarkable ideas only in their minds. Doing this often kills countless ideas and splendid plans.


However, the moment a person becomes committed to an idea, a vast, invisible universe of energy is set into motion. All sorts of things occur to support the person that otherwise would never have happened.  A stream of events enters this person’s life that supports their quest.  This support comes in the form of unforeseen incidents, chance meetings with those who have influence and economic power.  Doors magically open.  None of these events was visible prior to the decision to commit oneself to an idea.

    Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, take that first step and begin!  Boldness has genius, power and magic to it.  Begin to follow your commitment immediately!

    In every walk of life, people have uncovered their hidden treasure and have grown new industries, created cures for various illnesses, helped people to walk again and have produced new ideas that have fractured and destroyed old ways of thinking.  Many of these people were not religious, i.e., people whose boundaries are defined by dogma, doctrine and specific beliefs. 

    Has it ever occurred to us that Jesus was teaching something that had little to do with his parent religion?  His lessons had to do with becoming the highly creative beings that we were designed to be.  He was teaching his listeners what it means to being created a little lower than the angels.

    Right now, we are experiencing a world where people everywhere are scrambling to find the treasure that will help them gain control over their lives, e.g., freedom, wealth and power.  In case some of us have not noticed, very little is working for any of them. Why is that?  Millions of people and nations are looking in the wrong places.  Seeds produce one-of-a-kind life-forms because of the DNA code inside of them.  We are no different!  

    In one of my churches there was a very talented man.  His formal education had been limited but he was an engineer in every aspect of that profession. He not only could fix anything, but he was a visionary that knew how to create machinery that would increase the efficiency his company needed. If he was not able to build it himself, he created the blue prints so that others could.    

    One day, he, two of his brothers and a nephew were arguing about the best way to load a washing machine into the back of a pick-up truck.  As their differences of opinion grew louder, Ernie just picked up the machine by himself and placed it onto the flatbed of the truck.  He knew what to do and acted immediately.   

    Today, world leaders talk about diplomacy.  They talk about the ineffectiveness of the United Nations, the weapons of mass destruction that are available to angry children living in adult bodies, the use of biological agents that have the potential to destroy millions of lives and the uselessness of exporting democracy when that form of government does not appear to be working in the nations that have it.  As someone once said, “All of this talk is symbolic of our belief that rearranging the furniture on the deck of the Titanic will somehow save the ship.”

    It may take thousands of years before the world’s people discover that the hidden treasure of a perfect form of government, a perfect mate, a perfect job, and a perfect income level do not exist nor has such perfection ever existed.  Anything that we understand as perfect comes from an attitude that only we have the power to develop.  If we try to find our treasure in the world, we will die brokenhearted.    

    Jesus was teaching what Joseph, the son of Jacob, actually lived.  Our seed has the potential to become gigantic groves of trees.  All we have to do is allow that seed to germinate and God will fine-tune creation through what we become.  Remember, Hilda Aitken became committed to giving political power to women.  As a member of Centenary, she became the first of two women elected to Parliament in 1948.

    Quality of life is not caused by what is happening to us or around us in the world, but rather how we are interpreting those events.  Once we are committed to making the angel inside of us to become visible, we have found that hidden treasure.  We are prepared to use the yeast to make the batch of dough rise.  We own that pearl of great price. 

    God molds and shapes human events by working through us.  We bloom where we are planted and God does the rest.   When this happens we are living in what Jesus called, “The Kingdom of God.”