I am a sucker for a great treasure story. Apparently I’m not alone. Treasure hunting films like The Goonies, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and National Treasure keep on being produced. Yet the popularity of these movies is not simply due to good acting. It seems people love to identify with the hidden treasure plot. It doesn’t matter that you know the main character will find the lost treasure in the end; you’re gripped by the tale of that one great treasure that’s been lost for centuries and the possibility of finding it. Why is that? Why do people dream of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Why do we love watching people make sacrifices to find that chest of gold or lost city of Atlantis?
The treasure of knowing God
Deep down, everyone inherently knows they have somehow lost a great treasure. Because of Adam’s sin, all of humanity lost the one thing that will satisfy the soul of man, but it isn’t a pot of gold; it’s the person of God. The great treasure is not a thing or a place; it’s a person. Knowing God is the treasure. Think about it. Why is it that for a sports fan, it’s not enough to go to the game and have your team win? There is a deep desire to know the hero of the game, to get close, to get his autograph, to get your picture taken with him. There is a strong longing to know a person of greatness, a celebrity. Why is it that people like listening to up close interviews after some big event? Why do you want to hear what the participants have to say? To know what they were thinking and feeling when such and such happened? It’s because we all want more than objective information; we want personal information, personal knowledge from somebody important. That somebody is God. This is why God says, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts, boast in this, that he understands and knows me” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). This is why Jesus said, “This is eternal life that they know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Getting to heaven is not the main point – knowing God is. Heaven is just the by-product of personally knowing God. The essence of Christianity is personal knowledge of God. And the greatest treasure in life is knowing God. But many people find it extremely difficult to get any real sense that they personally know God.
The difficulty of knowing God
You may read or hear about having a personal, intimate relationship with God, but are you experiencing it? Are you convinced that God even wants you to know him? Have you ever had this moment where you’ve thought – “God if you really exist and you want a personal relationship with me, why don’t you just show yourself?” This is exactly what Philip, one of Jesus’ disciples, asked for and Jesus said, “Have I been with you so long and you still do not know me?” Jesus pointed out that God had already granted that request. God had already shown himself in Jesus Christ. One of the best moments in every great treasure story is the reaction of the main character when he or she discovers that the secret to the treasure or the map has been right there the whole time, buried in the backyard or hidden behind a photo in the attic. When that happens the possibility of finding the lost treasure grips you. And its knowing you actually have the real treasure map in your hands that gives you the confidence to take risks and sacrifice everything to follow it. It’s the same when it comes to knowing God.
The process of knowing God
You already have the treasure map. The disciples didn’t need something more; they needed to maximize what they already had. They needed to fully trust that Jesus was the only way to know God. A great treasure hunt always seems to involve a wrong path to avoid and a right path to take. Like Philip, the path to avoid is demanding more revelation from God in order to believe. You may think, “If only I could actually see God then I could really know him.” The path to avoid is demanding something you don’t have instead of capitalizing on what you already do have. Jesus is the path to take. This is why he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). This means he is the only map to finding the treasure. Jesus is the only way to God because he’s the only one who’s cleared away what’s in the way. How do you know you have a right relationship with your phone company? Only when your bill is paid. This is what Jesus did at the cross. He took on the debt of sin so that you can experience the treasure of God. The process of knowing God starts with faith in Jesus, but to personally know someone you need two-way communication. This is what prayer and reading the Bible is. Prayer is primarily you talking to God, and the bible is God speaking to you. And if knowing God is the treasure, then the first question to ask is, “What does this passage teach me about God? You also learn about God through his works. You can learn a lot about an artist by the things he or she creates. It’s the same with God. And remember, how does any relationship grow? Through regular visits. Through ongoing personal interaction. So let faith in Christ, and frequent time in God’s word and works become the map that you follow to know God. For knowing God is everything you’ve ever wanted in every treasure tale every told.
Jeremy McKeen is the Lead Pastor of Truth Point Church, a church in West Palm Beach he started with his wife Lindsay. The church’s mission is to point people to the truth of the gospel.” Jeremy received his B.A. in Communications and Philosophy from Florida Southern College and his MDiv. from Knox Theological Seminary.