You probably remember in the first National Treasure movie where Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage) uncovers hidden clues on the back of the Declaration of Independence by looking through different colored lenses.
This clever invention can tell us a lot about how we view God, and how we discover His hidden treasure.
Because what we see will depend on which “decoder” glasses we’re looking through. And these two different sets of lenses are fear and love.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:18 NASB)
The fear-colored lenses
If we decode God through the colored lenses of fear, like with Adam, we will see Him as an exacting judge, punishing our bad behavior, so we will hide in the bushes when we fail. We will see Him through the spectacles of the “knowledge of good and evil.”
Intimacy with God is replaced by outward moral restraint. We see His justice as punitive and retributive. And because fear disconnects us from love, we see ourselves separated from everyone else—it’s the world of adversaries, factions, “isms,” picking sides, deciding who’s “in” and who is “out.”
From Adam forward, man builds religions on fear and separation by building towers to heaven, appeasing angry deities and throwing virgins into volcanoes…all so that bad things won’t happen and god will rain on their crops.
This is where God met Abraham, and this is how He had to relate with His people throughout the Old Testament. The Law was “obey God or else.” It was based in fear, not in love. Why? Because that’s all “Adam” understood.
But like with the cypher glasses in the movie, looking through this first set of lenses only gave part of the message. God patiently met them where they were at, keeping the treasure safe, until the “fullness of time” when He could give us the second set of lenses. Only then could He reveal what He purposed from the beginning.
The love-colored lenses
If we look through the lenses of love, we will see God as a good Father in relationship with His children. And we will see His justice as redemptive and restorative. This is a higher form of justice because it’s not about punishing the perpetrator; it’s about restoring both the perpetrator and the victim. His love casts out our religious fear based on punishment.
When Jesus came, He wasn’t looking through the religious lenses of fear. He came to show us the Father for the first time in human history (Matt.11:27; John 14:9; Heb.1:3). His sacrifice and gift of the Holy Spirit gave us His decoder glasses! (John 14:17-20)
It’s interesting that God is not described as a “Father” in the Old Testament (except a couple of times as a “father to Israel”). This is why the Jews wanted to stone Jesus for saying that God was His Father. Yet, in the New Testament, He’s described as our Father over 250 times! That’s a serious upgrade!
God was usually not described as love in the Old Testament either (except, love God or else!). But, over and over, especially with John’s writings, we see Him described in this way. Again, new decoder lenses!
Uncovering the hidden treasure
Like Benjamin Gates, the New Testament writers went on a brave journey of discovery. Their mission was to “uncover the most spectacular treasure in history!” God had left “clues to this treasure’s location” in the Old Testament, but the only way to see it was through their new “Jesus-cypher lenses” that the Holy Spirit had given them (see John 16:12-15; 1 Cor.2:9-16).
For they now knew that the “fullness of time” had finally come with Jesus…
4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Gal 4:4-6 NASB)
And the mystery of the ages is finally revealed. God hid this treasure in us!
27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col.1:27 NASB)
Beloved, God’s eternal treasure map leads right to you and me! This is what He had purposed from the beginning—adoption and sonship (Eph.1:3-7). Do you see that His surpassing greatness and power, the same treasure that resided in Jesus, is now working in you?
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves (2 Cor.4:7)
This is what Easter is ultimately about. Christ suffered and died, was buried, and rose again, so that God could put His treasure in us, and we could live in Him and commune with Him as His sons and daughters forever. Again, this was His eternal purpose from before the foundation of the world.
As we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior and God, Jesus Christ, I want to ask you one question. Which colored lenses are you looking through?
May you and yours have a very blessed Resurrection Sunday! Know that you are His precious pearl! (Matt.13:45-46) After all, He bankrupted heaven for you.