The 'X' Factor or X marks the spot:
When I was young one of my favorite books was 'Treasure Island' by R. L. Stevenson. The young hero Jim Hawkins, the sea voyage to the island, the pirates led by Long John Silver and of course, the map on which 'x' marked the spot where the treasure was located.
In Algebra, 'x' denotes an unknown value or quantity and, just like the 'x' on the treasure maps, it is a symbol for the unknown that is being sought after.
In life we can hunt for many unknowns but surely the greatest unknown that all mankind seeks has to be God. The question is - is there an 'x' marking the spot where he can be found and if so, how do we recognize it?
It is often said that there is a God shaped void within each of us and that we all seek to fill it in one way or other. In attempting to do so we are reaching out from the physical and finite in order to connect to the spiritual and infinite. In all its various forms we call this reaching out 'Religion'.
Religion comes in many forms and under many names. Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Shinto, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity and many others too. All of them have one thing in common; each one is an attempt by mankind to connect to whatever version of God they believe in.
Within each religion there are differing liturgical forms and practices. Each religion tends to have sub groups formed because of the various doctrinal differences. Some of these religions are compatible with each other and some are in bitter opposition.
Despite this there is also a long-standing attempt to bring them into concordance, to create a universal religion. This is sometimes expressed as saying that we are all on differing paths leading up to the same mountain peak. That peak is seen as being the be all and end all of all religion, the place where God can be found. The much sought after 'x' on the map of existence.
The paths to that mountaintop, to the peak, are formed by faith. The substance of that faith is what determines the path's ultimate destination. Therefore it follows that no matter how strong and devout that faith is, if it is faith in a false idea of God then the path formed will not lead to God. If the basis of faith is false, based on something that is not real, then the destination will be void of reality. Just like the false place marked by the 'x' on the fictional pirate's map, there will be nothing there. That mountaintop, if it does exist, is empty of the presence of God.
The reason is that God can only be reached by faith in whom or what God really is. The path that connects one to God has to be built by faith in whom or what God really is and not what we would like him to be. It is an unfortunate fact of life that all man-made religions are about man’s idea of God, rather than God himself.
This raises the question - if all mankind's attempts to reach God are in vain, what hope is there? The answer is that God did not create us to be isolated from him and he wants to be in touch with us. Mankind's attempts to reach God are in vain but God's attempt to reach mankind was successful.
The Apostle John put it this way:
"in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ...and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:1 and 14)
The Apostle Peter said:
"When we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Peter 1:16)
God alone can cross that void between the spiritual and infinite and connect to us who dwell in the physical and finite. We could not get to him but he could, and did get to us. In other words he has shown us the 'x' that marks the spot where the ultimate treasure can be found.
It is in the person and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the incarnation of God on earth. The birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ are the fulfillment of God's outreach to mankind.
All religions, and that includes religious Christianity, have faith based on what we do rather than on what God did. As such they lead to a Godless void and eternal separation from him. The only path to God is the path that God himself created. As Jesus said:
"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is no other way to the Father except through me" (John 14:6)
He also said:
"Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God .... Except a man be born of the water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:3 and 5)
This then is where 'X' marks the spot. Surely we should heed the word of Jesus and desire to move away from dead religion and manmade traditions and seek to be born again by the Holy Spirit. From the time of Pentecost on, the Holy Spirit has been waiting for us to discover the 'x'. Waiting for us to become born again and experience the ultimate treasure of all existence.
The Apostle Paul put it this way:
"The mystery which has been hid from ages and generations, but now is made manifest ..... which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory. (Col 2: 26 and 27)
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20)
The greatest unknown that all of us seek is God. The question is - Have we recognized his 'x' on the map of our life, the 'x' that marks the spot where he can be found? If we are not born again by His Spirit then, no matter how moral, upright or religious we are, then our faith is building a path to oblivion.
The good news is that the ultimate treasure is freely offered, the map is available to all who he is calling and the 'x' is clearly marked. It is ours for the taking. May your treasure hunt be as successful and may you be born again just as God intended.