Monday, June 24, 2013
Obsessed with Treasure
But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you...For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:31,34.
One of the series of movies that I get a great deal of enjoyment out of watching is the Pirates of the Caribbean series. They are fun and, for the most part, family friendly. If you are unfamiliar with the series, it follows the exploits of one Captain Jack Sparrow and his band of misfit pirates as they seek various kinds of treasure and wind up in all sorts of trouble. In the first installment of the series, The Curse of the Black Pearl, Jack Sparrow encounters young Will Turner. Will is a blacksmith's apprentice and has a healthy disdain for all things pirate. What he doesn't realize is that his father was a pirate extraordinaire who sailed with Sparrow on the Black Pearl. It doesn't take long for Jack to realize that this young man is more than meets the eye and finally he confronts Will about his unknown past. During this exchange Jack is listing reasons why he is convinced that Will does, indeed, have pirate blood in him. He had commandeered a ship, sailed with a buccaneer crew and, he says, you're completely obsessed with treasure.
It seems that in the pirate world there is a common bond shared among these rapscallions...they all love treasure of all sorts. The conversation between the two continues;
Will: That's not true. I'm not obsessed with treasure.
Jack: Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.
Let me tell you, me hearties, this little insight into the minds of pirates has some very deep spiritual implications. In Luke chapter 12 Jesus addresses the issue of greed and the way in which we view material, or earthly, things...possessions. After showing the crowd the wrong kind of treasure to seek and some of the terrible side effects of seeking it, He goes on to share with them the right kind of treasure. In the verse above we see it clear and bold terms, seek His kingdom. This is the treasure we are to seek after with all the obsession of a pirate after gold.
What does it mean to seek His kingdom? Well, the answer is more beautiful than you may realize. In the context of Jesus' ministry on earth, and even up to today, the "kingdom" that is in view is rightly understood as salvation. Now, before you stop reading that think I've gone completely overboard hear me out. In just the past few chapters of the Gospel of Luke Jesus repeatedly spoke about the kingdom of God. In 9:2 and 9:60 Jesus told people to go and proclaim the kingdom of God. In 10:9-11 He told the disciples to tell the people in the towns and villages that they entered that the kingdom of God had come near. In all of these instances the literal kingdom of God (new heaven, new earth, real, physical kingdom) had not actually come to them. What had appeared? The Messiah who offers us salvation and citizenship in the kingdom. John MacArthur helps us out at this point when he says that this;
refers to the sphere of God's dominion over those who belong to Him. The kingdom is now manifest in heaven's spiritual rule over the hearts of believers; and one day it will be established in a literal earthly kingdom.
You see, first and foremost, the treasure that we are to be seeking is the salvation that Christ offers us. No other treasure could be more appealing. In the verses that follow this directive Jesus lays out for us things that we can do that will become outward evidence that we have found the treasure of salvation.
Sell you possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.
Here's the kicker. If we have not first sought, and found salvation, then doing these things will ultimately be meaningless. Why? Because you cannot buy, volunteer or work your way into heaven. No matter how much you give to charity, no matter how much time you spend helping those who need help, you cannot earn your place in heaven. It only comes through accepting the free gift of salvation. Seeking the spiritual kingdom of God now (salvation) will ensure that you see the literal kingdom of God later on. You see, as Jack Sparrow points out, not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.
Now for the real gut-checker question. Are you obsessed with the treasure of God? Can people around you tell that you are a follower of Christ because of your obsession with His treasure? Let me ask this another way. Is it obvious that Christ's salvation and the will and ways of God are at the top of your priority list? One of the saddest perversions of Christianity in our culture is the idea that salvation is something that is completely inward. That is, only God can see the cleansing power of Christ's blood in your life. We have come to believe that God saves us for eternity and not for right now. There is no life change involved in our faith anymore. It is as if we think we have some kind of spiritual retirement account that is only cashed in once we die. This witness of Scripture is clear, when we accept salvation our lives are completely transformed and that takes on some very outward proofs. Suddenly, we begin to invest our time, resources and money in eternal things rather than earthly things. We are no longer self-centered but selfless in our behavior.
Finally, and this is where the analogy between pirates and Christians begins to break down, the treasure of the kingdom of God is not meant to be hoarded. Pirates were famous for finding treasure and then...burying it, right? Such is not the case with the kingdom of God. Once we find it, then we are to share it and when we share it we do so generously because we know that we'll never reach the end of it.
Jesus wraps up His teaching on the treasures by stating,
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
This becomes a question for us to consider. Where is your treasure? Is it only on this earth because if it is, that is where your heart is and you are going to miss out on heaven. On the other hand, if we are seeking God's treasure we are told that we will be made heir and co-heirs with Christ in His kingdom. We get eternity with Him but, Jesus also tells us that He will give us life, and life abundantly. Where is your treasure? Where is your heart? Are you obsessed with the kingdom of God, and can people tell?