Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Seeking the Treasure

Do you remember the epic movie “The Titanic?” It took the box office by storm; some people seeing it up to 9 to 10 times. Why? What was the attraction of that movie? First, it was a wonderful romantic story of the underdog winning the heart affection of the rich and beautiful woman. But, layered on top of that story is the current day story of the search for the treasure at the bottom of the sea.

Layered on top of the romance is the search of the Titanic, people investing millions of their own capital to find the Titanic that lies on the bottom of the ocean. Why? Because they know that a treasure awaited them. They were looking for the jewel that Cal gave to his finance, Rose. It was called the Heart of the Ocean. But, even more they were looking for the hidden stories of the ship: desiring to know that which was currently hidden from them. They realized down below was a treasure that they were willing to invest their life in discovering.

If Jesus was telling stories today, I believe he would also talk about the Titantic. He was a great teacher who knew how to take that which was culturally relevant to the people and make a spiritual concept simple yet profound. The culture was primarily agricultural so Jesus used a lot of farming illustrations in his teaching.

Matthew, one of his disciples, wrote down a lot of Jesus’ teachings and called them the Sermon on the Mount. He also dispersed teaching on the Kingdom of God (or Heaven) throughout his book. One of those teachings is this:

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all that he had and bought the field.” Matthew 13:44

Jesus first invitation to us is to “Seek first his Kingdom….” What does it mean to seek? As I’ve delved deeper into the meaning of the word, I’ve realized that it is just this story about the treasure in the field. To seek is to search with everything we have to find the treasure. To seek is to search relentlessly until we find it. To seek is to give our whole lives to find it. And, to seek is to know that when we’ve found it, we will continue to give everything we have to live enjoying the treasure.

This is the challenge I see in our ability to seek first God’s Kingdom. The world is structured in such a way to take us in the exact opposite of that pursuit. We become consumed with the last line of Matthew 6:33: “and all these things shall be added unto you.” If you look at the context of the sixth chapter of Matthew, we find that the “all things” are about our earthly needs: verse 25 says “Do not worry about your life what you will eat or drink.” Verse 28 speaks of our clothes, telling us not to worry about what we will wear.

Before the theme of not worrying comes up, Jesus tells us that no one can serve two masters: either we will store up treasures in heaven or we will store up treasures on earth. It seems that Jesus tells us that we can’t serve two masters: if we do, we are divided people that will continue to live a frustrated life.

I think I know what you are going to say now: Jesus just doesn’t know how your life is right now. It’s hard to navigate searching for the treasure of the kingdom when you have so many demands on your time between your spouse, your children, your employer, your venders….it goes on and on. Besides the fact that we are never really able to get away from the demands because our cell phones, emails, texts keep us connected 24/7.

But, in reality, in comes down to the choice. Our choice. What’s more important to us? Where do we put our belief system? Who really provides for us? Is it our employer or is it our Heavenly Father? Bill and I have had the reality check 7 times that our employer is a fickle boss: with one decision, a company can be sold and our lives and the lives of all the other employees instantly becomes different. It helps us to remember who provides for us when our earthly boss changes course so easily.

If we choose to believe that our Heavenly Father is our provider, it changes our perspective. Suddenly, we understand that he has a different priority for us than our employers. He wants to lead us to the life worth living, the abundant life that Jesus speaks of. And, as we establish his priorities first, then he provides for our physical and earthly needs.

It seems simple, but it takes an intentional decision to change our mind on who leads us. I think that most of us want to believe that we do follow our heavenly Father first, but if we dig deep, we find that our behavior speaks differently.

Take this simple test:

 1. When you prioritize your day, is there time for your own space to let down and time to give God     your full attention?

2. On your day off, if you are faced with an important email to write or spending time reading your Bible, which one do you choose?

3. If you get a text or a phone call during your time with the Lord, do you ignore it or do you check it and contact them back?

4. If your friend, neighbor, family member, calls or comes over unexpectantly and needs help, how do you respond?

I could write on and on, but you get the idea. Who’s got your attention?

Pay attention this week to your thought patterns, your choices and your behavior. Filter it through the lense of the “Seek” word that means “Search for it like a treasure buried in a field,” something worth giving everything we have to obtain.

And, then decide: what are you seeking? What are you giving the “everything you have to?” Is it worth it?

1 comment:

Curtis said...

Stepping out of the boat only seems foolish if you view the boat as what is keeping you from sinking instead of the one calling you onto the waves and the provider of the boat.