He sat next to me on the bus seat. My brown paper lunch bag sat between the two of us. I loved this little guy. He was wildly popular with most of the 2nd grade boys. Despite the fact that he wore a purple helmet, had a hook for an arm and skull and crossbones as a belt buckle, he was still my favorite. Perhaps what made him so cool was the little eyelet on his helmet and the bear trap jaw attached to his face. In the He-Man Universe his name was Trap Jaw and he was a bionic man…half man and half machine. His hooked right arm could be swapped out with weapons, like hooks, claws and laser canons. I remember taking some of my mother’s thread and running it across my bedroom…threading one end through the eyelet on his helmet and letting him zip line safely onto my bed pillow.
I had brought him to school with me that day for show and tell. His popularity quickly elevated my own popularity into the “acceptable for today” status. Before the luxury of updating our own status on Facebook, we used to have to rely on the status assigned to us by others. However, by bringing cool things in for show and tell, one could elevate their status quickly. One time I brought in a yo-yo with some sharp edges cut into the edge to be used as a weapon…(just be sure to wear gloves)…I quickly reached “super cool” status until Mrs. Tucker took it away and it disappeared forever in the cesspool of her bottom left desk drawer.
As the bus approached the bus stop, I put Trap Jaw into my empty lunch bag so that I would not forget him or lose any of his “attaching implements.” The bus stopped and I hopped off…I did not realize that I had left my lunch bag sitting on the seat.
That was the last day I saw be treasured and beloved Trap Jaw. I told my parents about my devastating loss, while I fought back the tears. My dad was super helpful in my time of distress as he said to me, “I think it is about time that I give you a lecture.”
This was great! As he began to go on and on, endlessly sharing his thoughts, I spent my time wondering, “What is a lecture…and how does this help me get my treasure back.”
But as the tireless speaking continued, I came to realize that a lecture must be a “distraction from our problems!”
“Wow! Thanks Dad! That was super distracting…I wasn’t even thinking about Trap Jaw during that long winded speech...We should keep this lecture thing in mind the next time I haven't done my homework...and i am worried about what the teacher will say...you could give me a lecture...and I could forget all about my worrying!"
I never did receive a replacement for Trap Jaw, but that doesn’t really matter. I have found many other things in life to “treasure,” cars, bikes, guitars, baseball card, etc. I think that “treasures” might be one of the big challenges in our human nature and one of the greatest distractions to the Gospel.
The Gospel is the single greatest treasure the world has ever seen…and yet we tend to hold other things as having a greater value. Perhaps, we “do” hold the Gospel to the great value that it is…yet, we often tend to believe that we have to somehow earn the Gospel treasure. We can’t. The Gospel cannot be purchased. You cannot afford it. There is nothing you have that is worth more. There is nothing that you have that could earn it for you. It has already been purchase…by the only one who could actually afford it. Jesus.
Acts 8:4-25, presents a wonderful narrative. We find that this treasured Gospel has spread outside of Jerusalem and is now being spread in Jerusalem. There is a man there…a magician…who tries to quite literally…buy the power of the Gospel. Peter confronts him with the truth…which is where I think we need to find ourselves. Here is it…the Gospel…standing before us…what will we do? Repent? Believe? Accept? Or, will we default to un-acceptance…or needing to “earn” it? What will it take for us to understand and believe?