Just recently, someone aksed me what I thought ‘treasure in heaven’ was. Here’s what I answered:
After 3 or so months of ruminating (ok, just doing other stuff!), I’m ready to give this a bit of a go.
The idea of treasure still seems a little mercenary: I’m not doing it for Jesus
so much as for the heavenly goodies I’ll get.
I think there may be a false dichotomy in that statement. That is, the heavenly goodies we get is Jesus. Complete fellowship with him. In his presence to magnify his name forever.
The danger with the ‘duty’ perspective that you mentioned is that we think we ‘owe’ God. Its a view that goes something like: ‘Well, God has done so much for me in sending Jesus, that I owe him my life and my service and my good deeds in his name. Its the least I can do.’
The problem with this is it slips into a bit of a ‘merit’ theology. But can we ever really repay God for what he has done? The reality is, that any good works we do for him are ‘prepared in advance for us to do’ by him, and then enabled by him in us to do anyway. He is the one who energises us, who gives us his Spirit-gifts to serve, and gives us the context in which to use them. Consider these two quotes from John Piper:
Every good deed we do in dependence on God does just the opposite of paying him back; it puts us ever deeper in his debt to His grace. And that is exactly where God wants us to be through all eternity.
Good deeds do not pay back grace; they borrow more grace.
Which sort of leads to your second question:
What’s your take Keith: what is treasure in heaven? A room with a river-of-life
view? A seat closer to Jesus?
Here’s my take at the moment. The picture in heaven is of the saints in adoring praise of God and the lamb who was slain. That is the greatest good that anyone can have, and everyone partakes in it. So what then could further ‘treasure’ be? What could give someone a greater experience of that ultimate reality?
I suspect treasure is heaven is a deeper understanding of the grace of God in the gospel. Whether that is in the shape of seeing people that God was pleased to save through your faithful witness, or seeing those who benefited from your faithful and gracious exercise of the gifts God had given you, or whatever. The motivation for service then is not mercenary, for it is out of a desire to have a more complete worship of God who should be the sole object of worship.