During my college years I would occasionally pick up some spending money working for a dealer in European antiques. Most of my duties entailed delivering high-valued pieces to well-healed clients, and occasionally I would do whatever chores needed to be done around the store. One day, I noticed on the workbench several small, brass boxes buried amid the clutter. Embossed on their lids was a portrait of a woman and the decorative patterns that encircled her profile; though dulled by years of neglect, these artifacts were nonetheless compelling. The shop owner explained to me that these were cigarette boxes Princess Mary had given to British troops at Christmastime 1914, the first year of “the Great War.” Hers was the portrait that adorned the lids amid their ornate designs.
“If I clean all of these up, may I buy one?” I asked the owner. He agreed, so I went to work, removing tarnish from brass, including the green patina burrowed deep into the crevices of each relief, until every piece came alive again, restored to its former splendor. So stunning was the transformation that the owner would gift these formerly forgotten relics to his most elite clients—all, that is, except the one antique box my mother opened that Christmas morning.
As beautiful as these polished pieces emerged from their cleansing, we are restored to God in infinitely greater brilliance and immeasurably higher value. The apostle Paul tells us that God “has reconciled [us] by Christ’s physical body through death to present [us] holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation …”1 Holy, without blemish, and free—stop and soak this in, for it is who we are, and it is who we are becoming, for “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things … by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”2 Then more majestic than the likeness of any earthly sovereign, the image eternally embossed on us is that of Christ, who is “the image of the invisible God,”3 for we are “being transformed into [the Lord’s] likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord.”4
So what remains for us but to carry “the message of reconciliation”5 God has committed to us? For just as God, in Christ, has removed the tarnish from our souls, so also does He long to restore everyone to His image in ever-increasing glory and brilliance. May no one be lost amid the clutter.
Father, you have reconciled me to yourself; how can I ever thank you enough? Use me to bring the hope of reconciliation to others, so that precious, living treasures would be rescued from amid the clutter of this world and restored to splendor in the image of your Son. In Jesus I pray. Amen.
Christ in me is peace.
1 Colossians 1:22
2 Colossians 1:19, 20
3 Colossians 1:15
4 2 Corinthians 3:1
5 2 Corinthians 5:19
Read today’s Scripture in Colossians 1:15-23.