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The Gold Rush

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The Gold Rush

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.”

– Philippians 3:7


The term ‘Gold Rush’ has been used at various times in history and is described as ‘an interval of feverish migration of workers to an area that had a dramatic discovery of gold deposits’. Major gold rushes have taken place in the 19th century in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, and the United States, while lesser ones have taken place elsewhere.

Those were considered the days of the tangible asset; they were times when prospectors could carry home their fortune in a pocket or a bag. A man could start his day poor and, with a simple handheld filter and a keen eye, attain their financial dream. It sounds too outrageous to be true, but that was the way it happened for many prospectors.

I have tried placing myself in the times of the gold rush and contemplating the potential highs and lows of such an environment whose only motive is wealth. I now ask myself how I would handle such moments of potential gain and loss. But most of all, what would it take to prize such a level of gain out of my hand and heart? One thing I do recognise is the motivation of the prospector, that being, taking the opportunity for ‘breaking with their past’ and ‘pressing on toward their goal.’ It is here I see a parallel with the Apostle Paul. He certainly had to break with his past to press on with his goal.

It is hard for us to imagine what was going through the Apostle Paul’s mind as he metaphorically began to put pen to paper. Here is a man who, not too long past, was diametrically opposed to the Jewish brethren he was now addressing. To call it a transformed life is more than miraculous, to say the least. He begins his letter to the Philippians congregation with a lengthy personal narrative modelled on the example of Christ. I wonder how many of us have ever had the courage to do the same. One commentator reminds us that he provides the reader with a detailed list of his credentials for high status according to the flesh, then announces that he no longer exploits this status. No doubt those reading or hearing this news would have been somewhat suspicious, to say the least. St Paul’s gold was his wealth of education under Gamaliel, who was a doctor of the law and a member of the Sanhedrin; it is this parallel that draws me toward St Paul’s decision to reject his former gains of legalism and to consider them as being loss for the sake of Christ.

But where do we sit at this very moment of time and opportunity? Will we take time out to reflect on the array of values that we hold close to our hearts? Ours are unlikely to be precious minerals, but nevertheless we all hold any number of things that we are unwilling to lose. The list is endless, for some it may be our time, for others our perception of freedom. At the appointed time, failure can and does become a blessing rather than a curse. Out of failure, many of us have embarked on a journey towards salvation.

Many prospectors found that pure gold also had a fake friend in a mineral named pyrite. To shed further light on the subject of the mineral pyrite, I doubt that even if the prospectors had X-ray vision, they would still have believed that their fake gold was, in fact, pure. If for no other reason, the level of potential wealth would always be a major stumbling block. The word of God exposes the position that stumbling blocks and foolishness are very close friends. St. Paul, as always, makes a compelling argument in 1 Corinthians 1:22-23: “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”

The message of the cross was once Paul’s very own stumbling block, until by the Grace of God, He met Jesus along the Damascus Road. Paul had embarked upon his very own “Gold Rush,” in his case, pure gold was those people of ‘the way.’ His personal reputation and kudos had been built upon searching and persecuting those who followed Jesus Christ. He, too, would later discover his own ‘fool’s gold’ and testify to it through his letter to the Philippians 3:7: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.”

Today, the ‘gold rush’ does not come about through natural discovery and prospecting skills; today, people are able to manufacture their own ‘gold rush’ at predetermined times and places. Today, no individual prospectors are wearing funny hats, working long hours in the sun, and taking the God-given opportunity to access precious minerals as part of His grace and provision for man. Today, we have new gods; they are multi-national corporations and international banks who determine where the opportunities will arise and who the winners and losers will be. To some degree, nothing has really changed; there are still winners and losers, and many will chase the rewards without realising it was already over by the time they entered the game.

So often, we fail to see what stands before us. We choose wrong despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and we fail to recognise that not every stumbling block is from Satan.

Our stumbling blocks are sometimes extremely attractive, and we hold them in our hearts.

God uses the hidden things of the heart as ‘stumbling block tests.’ He positions them at the appointed place and time and already knows the outcomes. But He wants us to realise for ourselves how far we have come or not by recognising our level of spiritual stagnation.

Our Lord said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). In this instance, both the scribes and the Pharisees represent the mineral pyrite (fool’s gold) as they fail to see the true worth of who stood before them.

The only true ‘Gold Rush’ is towards the cross of Christ.

Calvary is where the riches of heaven were placed. No digging is required, no disappointments will be experienced, and the gold is there for all to see and for all to share. Come, come was His invitation; today, His voice grows louder and louder.

‘Fool’s Gold’ can be seen throughout scripture, and for some inexplicable reason, it fools as many today as it did yesterday. We need to ask ourselves, why are we prepared to exchange what is of immense value for what is worthless? The Psalmist warns us, “At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal. They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull.” Psalm 106:20 NIV. We continually fail to recognise the level of idols we have in our lives. They may reside in our homes or within our personalities, but rest assured, they are there, and He can see them. The signs are there for all to see, and sadly, the church, through tradition and culture, has many of its own.

The late John Stott provided us with this insight in “The Cross of Christ” and reminded us of the sign and symbol of the cross. He writes, “Every religion and ideology has its visual symbol, which illustrates a significant feature of its history or beliefs. The Lotus flower, for example, although it was used by the ancient Chinese, Egyptians and Indians, is now particularly associated with Buddhism. Because of its wheel shape, it is thought to depict either the cycle of birth or death or the emergence of beauty and harmony out of the muddy waters of chaos.” One alarming feature in the United Kingdom, and let’s be honest, we seem to have more than our fair share, is the emergence of the Buddha. I am amazed at the number of gardens and homes where the overweight, condescending smile of self-satisfaction of Buddha is proudly given pride of place. His message is simply, “You need not ask others for the answers to life are within you”. Self-reliance and self-centred are the hallmarks of this new fashion item.

This is where we see that fashion forms another facet of ‘Fools Gold.’ How many people completely fail to realise their oversized Buddha is an abomination to God and in contravention to the commandment in Exodus 20:1-6 And God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The examples are endless, yet we still chase ‘Fool’s Gold’ in every aspect of life. The realisation that disappointment and ruin are just around the corner fails to impact the believer and unbeliever alike. Unfortunately, the church is not exempt from chasing ‘Fools Gold’ nor those who attend. We have been warned, ‘many will come in my name.’ One recognisable manifestation of the presence of Christ in our lives must surely be His peace. Yet, on too many occasions, His peace is so easily rejected in favour of dissent. ‘Fool’s Gold’ is as much in the mind as it is under the ground. Politicians and news presenters speak about the next war being about oil or water, who knows? But in too many households, relational war is being fought due to unrealistic and unattainable ‘expectations?’ Unrealistic expectations are a contemporary example of a new type of ‘Gold Rush.’ Despite them providing more disappointment than satisfaction, our appetite for ‘expectations’ continues unabated. When will we acknowledge that the main aim is to break relationships for the many while providing satisfaction for a few? Our levels of naivety concerning this new ‘Gold Rush’ seem to grow exponentially in line with the increase of our unrealistic and unattainable expectations.

Paul warns us on this subject without using the word expectations. Romans 16:17-18 (NIV) “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery, they deceive the minds of naive people.” The major stumbling block for us in this passage is that we fail to acknowledge the level of naivety within us. Why? Because we lack humility. To think the unthinkable is to think that I may be naive!

But the earth continues to groan for a ‘Kingdom Gold Rush’ where humility is evident for all to see. We can only hope that the day will come when our entry point reflects that of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus. His entry point is very different from the world we are trying to change or emulate.

Today, the kings of commerce, politics, sport, fashion and industry and dare I say prosperity church, all enter the city in their white stretch Limousines, but they forget that the King of Kings arrived on a borrowed donkey.

To make this journey we need to choose our mode of transport carefully, because it says much about us. On the borrowed Donkey, we get time to think about the unsaved, in the Limousine we hope the unsaved recognise us and acknowledge what we do. Choose carefully this day, are you holding on to ‘Fools’ or Kingdom Gold?



Philippians 3 provides us with a powerful argument for breaking with our past and pressing on towards our goal; it’s a choice worth considering, all we have to do is follow his example; “whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.”



David Conlon.

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