Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Treasure That Endures


Recently I have been “mini-blogging” on Facebook (and “micro-blogging” on Twitter) about “laying up treasure,” based on Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-20).

Though I’ve written a series of posts about this in the past (see Laying Up Treasure in Heaven), bringing it up again allowed me to clarify a bit for a friend of mine who was having difficulty following what I was saying.

“Laying up treasure for ourselves” is about what we do with our money and resources. Jesus tells us to lay them up for ourselves, not on earth but in heaven. A lot of Christians think that means that, whatever they lay up in heaven, they’re not going to see it until they die and go to heaven — perhaps this is why my friend was having difficulty. But that is not what Jesus is talking about.

The sermon on the mount is essentially a manifesto in which Jesus announces the coming of the kingdom of God from heaven to earth, and how we are to respond to it. Notice the direction — it is not about us on earth going to heaven but heaven coming to earth. The kingdom of God, which we are taught to seek in Matthew 6:33, is the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven (as Jesus taught us to pray in the “Lord’s Prayer”).

So, when Jesus tells us to lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven, it is not for the sake of heaven. Heaven does not need it. Nor will we need it when we die and go there. Rather, it is for the sake of earth. That is, we lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven so that that the will of God may be done on earth as it is in heaven.

This is a total reorientation of our lives and requires a shift in our thinking. As followers of Jesus, we are people of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven that has been coming into the world ever since Jesus came. That kingdom is not where we are going to go someday; it is where we are from right now. Everyone who has received King Jesus the Messiah is a citizen of heaven. This is not future promise but present reality.

We are a colony of heaven on earth. We are not waiting to be air-lifted out, like the last Americans at the fall of Saigon, climbing the steps to the rooftop to be evacuated by helicopter. Quite the opposite, we are an insertion team, sent into the world to manifest the life and culture of heaven on earth. (I blogged about that last month — see A Colony of Heaven).

What this means, then, is that our money, our resources and everything in our lives are to be committed to and directed by heaven (that is, by God in heaven). It is about seeking the kingdom of God — the rule and reign of God on earth as it is in heaven — with our finances and resources. We are no longer to be directed by the way the world does things. Now we receive our instructions, our provision and, indeed, our whole life, from heaven.

So laying up treasure for ourselves in heaven is for the sake of the kingdom of God being revealed on earth. As we seek that kingdom, even with our finances, we will always have everything we need. That is the promise Jesus made in Matthew 6:33. We can commit ourselves and all our resources entirely to the will of God being done on earth as in heaven because God has committed Himself to take care of us fully and completely (see 2 Corinthians 9:8).

Laying up treasure in heaven is trusting in the economy of heaven (the provision of God) instead of the economy of the world. So it really comes down to who or what we love, trust and serve. That will determine where we lay up our treasure, and whether that treasure will endure.