Treasures in Heaven

Jesus Said
 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
Matthew Chap. 6 vs 19,20
The  Lexicon attached to my Online Bible gives the Greek word as thesauros which can mean the place where treasures are kept i.e. a treasury or the treasures kept therein. So despite the fact that the Prayer Book uses the singular Treasure in Heaven, I rather like the plural since it fits well with what follows:

In 1983 I wrote what I called a Manifesto which began with the above quotation and continued: I seem to have reached a plateau in my life, where I find the need to consolidate my knowledge and experience into a coherent set of beliefs. And later: In trying to consolidate my beliefs Treasure has become a favourite word, both as a noun and a verb, since it accurately reflects the idea of stored value. The words of Jesus on the front page are much more than a rejection of materialism, the saying  ‘You can't take it with you’ covers that. Treasures in Heaven is, I believe, that which we can take with us. And its acquisition is then the clear purpose of Life.

What I did not then know was that the next seven years were to be "fat ones"  with much to treasure and to be followed by  maybe more than seven "lean years". Leaner certainly but with many high points to treasure.  I am not Joseph and I do not have a Technicolor Dream Coat. Instead I have collected some of my treasures here on the Web.  This paper is by way of justifying my self indulgence.

Clones Cloning is now in the news. If one wanted to turn a clone of me (that is a body with exactly the same genes) into an actual copy of me, it would have to somehow be given my memory. Not just those memories which I can bring to mind and verbalise, but the whole history of my experiences which is presumably somehow stored in my mind (or perhaps brain) and makes me what I am. In other  words add  a copy of the nurture to the copied nature.

The same is true if I am going to have an existence after death. In the Creed we  say we believe in the Resurrection of the Body. But a spiritual  (or any other) body which is recognisably me, perhaps developed from a record of my genes in the Book of Heaven, is not enough, it would have to be recognisably  me in personality too, otherwise there is a serious philosophical difficulty in regarding the result as ME at all. Therefore I have to take my memory with me. Given that "going to heaven"  also involves a transformation, there would have to be a losing of some "bad" memory and nurture and the enhancing of "good" memory and nurture. Perhaps this is what Judgement means and the division into Sheep and Goats of which Jesus also spoke.  So, I suggest, one way of interpreting building up Treasures in Heaven is collecting, through life, those memories and experiences which are to be kept when we finally go to heaven. And, to refine that thought, this does not exclude things, objects, pictures, music and any other thing of good report as St Paul calls them. Obviously we cannot take with us any of these; However we can take a memory of them, but what really matters is not just the recollection but what the experience or ownership of such things did to our souls. Thus I am not talking just of happy memories but those things which moved us, which might be happy but can equally well be sad. An obvious example is of the funeral of Diana Princess of Wales: Very sad, but, for those who experienced it, possibly, literally, life changing.

This quality, the "Wow!" we say when we are moved by something, is the first criterion  I would put on recognising Heavenly Treasures. The second criterion is whether the memory has value now, living in the present. Has it taught us something worthwhile, thrown light on how we live or improved our present life in some way?

Similarly  this Real Treasure, Treasures stored in Heaven, Treasures stored for Heaven, do not tarnish because the means by which they were provided goes sour. For example: Treasured memories of a friend, who later betrays the friendship, should not be abandoned. If they were real at the time, their value is eternal.  This is not true of Earthly Treasure which moth and rust corrupt..... So we have a third criterion.

Summarising the criteria for Heavenly Treasures

  • They moved us in the past
  • They have value in  the present
  • Their qualities are valid for the future
  • Finally, something must be said about the greatest source of Treasure:  (to which the above criteria certainly apply) the love of those close to us and the love we are able to show to those around us. Love is  a word used in our everyday language to cover feelings ranging from the soppy to the sublime.  Treasure avoids that. The sentence I treasure you  conveys a wealth of meaning without the confusions surrounding the more usual I love you. And God Treasures us more clearly defines His relationship  with us than the phrase God is Love which can be misleading.

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