The story is told of an old, worthless-looking violin that came up for auction. No one wanted to bid on it. The auctioneer began with a modest call for three dollars. No bids. Two dollars? Nothing. One dollar? Surely someone would spend just a single dollar. The violin was in working order. It had all its strings and a bow. No one was willing to spend one dollar for an old violin?
Suddenly, an old man came forward and took the violin off the table where it lay. He picked up the bow and began to play a famous violin concerto. In the hands of a master musician, the old violin came to life. Its haunting and soaring music brought the entire room to tears. The old master came to the end of the piece, and there was a hushed silence as he lay the bow and violin back on the table and returned to his seat. Clearing his throat, the auctioneer started a new bid– one thousand dollars. Several people placed a bid. Two thousand? Three? What had been worthless in the eyes of so many just minutes ago suddenly had great value.
That’s a nice story, but it rarely happens that way in real life. I run a resale shop– antiques, collectibles, vintage and retro items, and yes, what most would probably call “junk.” People come in and look around– sometimes they find a piece or two that they like. Sometimes, it’s priced at just a dollar or two; sometimes the price is a little higher. Some people think my prices are too high; others find them on the low side. They think they are getting a real bargain, and they are convinced they will be able to resell the item for much more on-line or elsewhere. They may be right. They may be wrong. Most of them are just doing what I’ve already done– find an item that seems to be undervalued, and sell it to someone else who may value it more highly.
“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” That saying applies to many of the objects in my store. But it should never apply to a person. We tend to place a value on someone else based on many superficial factors. We judge people by the way they look– their clothing or their hair or the expression on their face when we first meet. Sometimes we judge them by their skin color or the way they speak– the words they use or if the have an “accent.” We judge some people to be smarter or more important based on who else pays attention to them or how much money they have (or don’t have). We judge their talents and experience based on hearsay or gossip. And we allow others to place their “value” on us. As though some people deserve more attention, more resources, or more love than others.
God sees through all the tarnish, the guilt, the low esteem, and shame that we carry around. Each one of us is equally precious in God’s eyes. There is no “junk” in God’s economy, when it comes to a human life. No matter how dirty, broken, used, misused, patched up, trampled on, or worthless we may seem to others (or to ourselves) we are priceless and cherished by our Heavenly Father.
Jesus sought out the “junk” people of his time– lepers, widows, children, the blind and lame, the sick and weary, diseased, depressed, and demon-possessed. He touched the untouchables, loved the unlovable, and forgave the unforgiveable. Even when He was condemned to die as a criminal, and rejected by His friends and followers, Jesus remembered the Father’s love for others.
In this Holy Week, I pray that I would not lose sight of God’s Amazing Love for us. When we were His enemies– fallen, ruined by Sin–“junk”, Jesus was willing to reach out, to walk with the marginalized and sick, and more than all that, to DIE in order to make us joint heirs and give us the glories of Eternal Life with Him! And when Jesus was taken down off the cross– broken, dead, and “worthless”, God raised Him to Life and gave Him a “Name that is above all names” (Philippians 2).
We pray to a God who cherishes our very thoughts–a God who delights to hear from us! What a powerful thought. What an Amazing Love!