One cannot read the New Testament without seeing its heavenly orientation. Heaven was continually on the heart of our Lord and it was the context for everything that He taught His disciples. He made it clear that He was calling them to turn their attention and affection and interest from this world to heaven, from what had been their earthly home and hope to His “Father’s house” from whence He had come and to which He would soon take them. He tried to wean them away from their natural earthly mindedness to heavenly with the empty and temporal nature of all this world has to offer.
Christ had said that His true disciples were “in the world” but “not of the world” because He had chosen them “out of the world” (John:17:6,11,14-18). There can be no doubt that the hope of the early Christians was not in the future of certain persecution which they faced on this earth, but in leaving earth for heaven to be forever with their Lord. They knew that they were “partakers of the heavenly calling” (Hebrews:3:1). Their only reliable and worthwhile hope was “laid up for [them] in heaven” (Colossians:1:5). Typical of the way in which our Lord continually sought to turn His disciples from this earth to heaven is the following exhortation:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew:6:19,20)
In sharp contrast to such commands from Christ and the heavenly orientation of the early church, there is a large and growing number of Christians today for whom long-range earthly ambitions have all but obscured the traditional hope of heaven—ambitions which they believe to be not carnal but biblical and very spiritual. They have become convinced that the Great Commission calls for a reconstruction of society that will result in a “Christianized” world. Since they believe that this reconstruction could take a long time, even thousands of years, it makes no sense not to lay up treasure upon this earth.