Just recently on our furlough, I was struck with an amazing investment idea that I think has huge potential for personal and corporate spiritual growth. It’s not a new strategy, but it certainly hit me like one when I read it again for what seemed like the first time. It comes from a couple of passages in the teachings of Christ. The methodology is amazingly simple and powerful, and I think it can revolutionize our church and cause exponential growth!
The first part comes from Matthew 6:19-21, which says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Most of us would agree that this passage is not talking about depositing money or other material items into a central bank or warehouse in Heaven. We don’t believe we can transport things like these to Heaven, as some of my Buddhist friends do. These dear people actually burn paper cars, cell phones, money and other things in an attempt to transport them to their departed friends and loved ones.
But if we can’t take our earthly treasure with us, then what is Jesus saying we can store up in heaven? I believe He gives us an answer at the end of His parable about the dishonest manager. In Luke 16:9, Jesus’ concluding instruction for His disciples is to “Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Here we see what appears to be a conversion of worldly wealth to heavenly treasure—temporal investments that yield eternal interest. This happens when we use our resources, gifts and talents to make friendships that result in people being saved into God’s kingdom. This is an investment opportunity we are all instructed to take advantage of during our short stay here on earth. That way, when our worldly wealth is gone, and we’re walking streets of gold, we might hear someone call to us to step in to their heavenly mansion for a visit.
Though this is a long-term investment, it still yields great dividends in the short term. Friendships here on earth that include Jesus are so sweet! And churches full of such friendships are so warm and happy, they grow spontaneously. Recently, I challenged myself, my kids and our church family in Khon Kaen, Thailand to focus our prayers, our energy, our listening ears, our helping hands, and, yes, our money, on just one or two special people in our lives who need Jesus in 2017, doing whatever it takes to make friends for eternity by connecting them with our best Friend, Jesus. Imagine what this can do for our church. What might it do for our world church? There would certainly be personal and corporate spiritual growth. Might we see 20-percent annual growth? 50-percent? I believe it’s more than possible if we hold steadfastly to Jesus and His strategy of investing in forever friendships. By God’s grace, each one can reach one!