Mel Fisher has been called the world’s greatest treasure hunter. His motto “Today Is The Day” came true on July 20, 1985, when his team found the Mother Lode of their dreams in the tropical waters of the Florida Keys. After years of salvaging shipwrecks of lesser significance, Mel’s team discovered stacks of silver bars, chests of silver coins, gold, and jewels on the ocean floor. They also recovered thousands of other artifacts from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, the richest Spanish treasure ship ever lost in the Western Hemisphere.
People like Mel intrigue and inspire us, because we are all fortune hunters at heart. We all spend enough time with our hopes and dreams to understand the principle that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
What do we consider important?
At the very least, we are all hunting for happiness, significance, and love. Many of us are also doing our best to find a comfortable home, reliable transportation, and good food. Along the way, we value meaningful work, restful weekends, and friendship. We make sacrifices as we look for good health, physical safety, and financial security.
Such values make us all treasure hunters. All are important, and all seem to have been in mind when the wisest of teachers said to His disciples, “All these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:30-32). According to Jesus, this kingdom was like a “treasure hidden in a field” (Matthew 13:44).
What are the values of Christ?
When Jesus spoke of “the kingdom of God” as the ultimate treasure, He used a term His Jewish countrymen understood. He knew they were looking for the coming of a Messiah and a return to Eden marked by goodwill and world peace. What His countrymen were slow to understand about this coming world-order is the value it would place on salvaged wrecks.
Mel Fisher looked for lost treasure. Jesus looked for lost people. Mel Fisher built a museum of salvaged artifacts. Jesus was building a community and kingdom of salvaged lives. Jesus treasured people others despised. He loved His enemies at His own expense. He honored those who admitted their need of others. He held dear those who cared for others. Above all, He valued His Father in heaven, who loves all of us far more than we love one another or even ourselves.
How are our values like the values of Christ?
The importance Jesus put on human need shows that our interests are closer to the heart of God than we might think. Before becoming our Teacher and Savior, Jesus was our Creator (Colossians 1:16). He is the one who gave us our desire for good food, friendship, and happiness. He built us to look for relational intimacy, personal acceptance, and freedom from worry. As the God who created our capacity to think, He gave us a thirst for knowledge, discovery, and value.
How are the values of Christ different from our own?
Although there are similarities, the treasures our Lord lived and died for differ from our own in several ways. (1) He knew how to be grateful for the gifts of life without worshiping them. We are inclined to make goods into gods, and then into demons that destroy us. (2) He taught us to use the material resources of this world to love people. We are more apt to love things and use people. (3) He taught us to see the joys and pains of this present life as the reflection of a world to come. We sometimes live as if there is no heaven or hell beyond the present. (4) In the pursuit of our dreams we often act as if the treasures of life are beyond ourselves and beyond our ability to find them. Jesus taught us to see that there are treasures of perspective within ourselves that we often overlook.
One of the countless gifts of Christ is a sense of priority and timing. In His Sermon on the Mount, the Teacher from Nazareth puts our values in perspective (Matthew 5:1-10). With a few words of timeless wisdom He shows us how to ultimately find what we are looking for. According to Jesus, the most well-off people in the world are not the materially rich and famous. Those who are to be envied and congratulated are the ones who see their desperate need of God and of one another (v.3). The most blessed of all are those who mourn their wrongs to the point of surrendering to God (vv.4-5). With submissive hearts, they hunger for relationships that give them a chance to show others the mercy they themselves have received (vv.6-7). With hearts full of love rather than lust, they seek to bring lost people back to God and to one another—even at their own expense (vv.8-10). These are the attitudes that lead us first to one another and then to the priceless kingdom that has been prepared for us.
We admire Mel Fisher because he and his crew found the sunken treasures of the Atocha. We applaud his success. Yet in our more thoughtful moments we remember the One who is really the greatest treasure hunter who ever lived. He looked for the love-filled will of God and found it. He searched for lost people and rescued them. At the expense of His own life, He paid for treasures infinitely greater than material convenience. Then to those who would trust Him, He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Father in heaven, You have given us so much. The miracle of life is beyond our understanding. The opportunity to know You is a gift beyond comparison. The people around us are priceless. Please forgive us for losing sight of what is most important. Please forgive us for ignoring You, Your will, and the hurting and lost people for whom Your Son died. May today be the day that Your kingdom comes and Your will is done in us, as it is in heaven.