Growing up I was always impressed with pirate stories. I remember going to see Pirates of the Caribbean and being impressed by the humour, the cinematography, but most of all the story. Whichever film you look at, pirate films always have one thing in common: treasure. Pirates search the seven-seas for the stuff, but just like in real life, the story never ends. The Pirates of Caribbean films now have five in the series, with another two in production, and I can see no reason why there shouldn’t be another ten, so long as hunting for treasure remains the goal. There’s no end to pursuing treasure. But is risking life and limb, scurvy, dehydration and sea-sickness really worth it for a pile of gold, or a ship, or some mystical object?
The interesting thing about human beings is that if we make something our target we use all of our creativity, ingenuity, strength and passion to reach that target. That’s the brilliance of human beings. However if we slap an X on the wrong thing, if we choose the wrong target, we can pursue it to our own destruction – like so many of the real-life pirates did. In contrast, Jesus tells us what we should be aiming for: what our focus should be – where we can find the X that marks the spot. In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus issues us an important warning:
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Jesus says our treasure shouldn’t be in things that can be eaten, broken or lost – not like food, health or gold coins and possessions. Each of these things are good, but they will inevitably slip out of our grasp. Instead we should invest in what will last forever. And what is that? Our relationship with God: the only thing that will truly extend beyond this lifetime. And very helpfully, coincidently like our pirate friends, that relationship begins with an X. A cross marks the start of that relationship, and lets us know that Jesus is the One Whom we should be pursuing because in His great love He pursued us first.