The Aga Khan museum of Islamic and Iranian art opened in Toronto, Canada in September 2014 and I recently had the opportunity to visit. The tour guide had a great sense of humor. He shared informed stories in a light hearted manner that brought life to artifacts and displays. Though I heard many interesting details, the thought that lingers relates to the answer given to a question asked by a guest, “Why is this museum it in Toronto?” The tour guide responded, “Toronto provided an opening, without restrictions, for the architectural design desired by His Highness the Aga Khan. Plans were underway for the museum to be built in another part of the world but the building design chosen by the Aga Khan was not welcomed there.”
The gathered treasures of the Aga Khan museum are in Toronto because Toronto fully committed to the desired architectural plans of the Aga Khan. A quick on-line search reveals the Aga Khan possesses great wealth which is being channeled to places where his vision and dreams are welcomed; Houston, Paris, London.
Great treasure channeled to where it is welcomed has wonderful spiritual application. I am not promoting a prosperity gospel but the simple truth that the Kingdom of God is near (Matt 4.17, 10.7, Luke 10.9) and available. Through Christ the Kingdom of God is a here-and-now reality and available to all who will commit to His Lordship. “The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:19). With God there are no impassible border lines. The eyes of the Lord, God, Almighty search the whole earth with a ready willingness to pour out His strength on those who will welcome His Lordship.
Augustine of Hippo said, “Only those who have open arms and open hands are able to receive God’s gifts"*. God wants the world to see His kingdom. “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD” (Isaiah 45:3). The Apostle Paul worked to make known “the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
In The Salvation Army we sing a song that asks, “Have you any room for Jesus?” Are your arms and hands open to receive his gifts? The next verse acknowledges that we have room for pleasure and room for business. The refrain urges the answer, “Room for Jesus, King of Glory! Hasten now His Word obey; swing the heart’s door widely open, bid Him enter while you may.” God desires to display his glory. Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3). Welcoming Jesus, God strengthens us to become the bearers of His radiance in the world.
The answer given by the tour guide reminded me of the importance of creating openings for God. Through prayer, Bible reading, the practice of other spiritual disciplines, we create openings for God. He comes with strength and is able to dismantle what may be in the way of His fullness. Our responsibility is to speak out loud and clear “you are welcome here.” Catch God’s ever-watchful eye and beckon, “Come, LORD JESUS, COME!” Come and occupy this place, make of my life Your dwelling, fill me with Your treasure, that Your living in and through me will become part of the telling of Your story and glory.
* Anthony DeStefao, The prayers God always says yes to, 234
Lieut-Colonel Ann Braund
Secretary for Spiritual Life Development
Canada and Bermuda Territory