The Treasures Of Church

The early church had a stormy relationship with the wicked and powerful Roman government. Cycles of severe persecution interrupted by tenuous peace recurred at the whim of the emperor. Roman officials, ignorant of the actual teachings and practices of true Christians, often acted out of bigotry, fear, superstition, or misinformation. The royal court assumed that the growing Christian church operated along the same lines as their own greedy religions.
The emperor, coveting the wealth these Christians must surely possess, summoned their head bishop to the royal court and ordered him to produce “the treasures of the church.” The frustrated bishop protested that the church had no gold, jewels, or other valuables (which was indeed true at this point in history). The emperor, brushing aside the bishop’s objection, demanded that the riches of the church be brought to him in the morning. The bishop left the royal presence quietly.
The next day the bishop dutifully appeared at the palace doorway. He was empty-handed. “I told you to bring me the treasures of the church!” the emperor raged.
The bishop then invited the emperor to look out at the palace steps. Gathered together, peering sheepishly at the great doors of the royal palace rising above them, was a mass of ragged beggars, cripples, slaves, and outcasts.
“These,” said the bishop with a sweep of his arm, “are the treasures of the church.”
For his unappreciated but accurate insight, the good bishop was promptly martyred. The treasure of the church is people. The church is not a building; it is not a doctrine; it is not a program. The body of Christ is the church.