Ellis Island was the first piece of America that millions of immigrants ever touched. It is a little island in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor and the point of entry for immigrants coming through New York. They would book passage for the cheapest price they could and travel way down below the decks. Finally, the boat would reach America, they would step off and enter this long, red brick building on Ellis Island. It's cavernous and echoes on the inside. They had to go through certain steps that eventually permitted them to move from the island and on to their real destination, which was New York City and the mainland. The people carried all their belongings in a basket, which was okay because they knew the island was not where they would live. Out of all those thousands who came to the island, not one ever set up a house there, because they were not going to be there very long.
Peter writes in 1 Peter 1 of the Bible to "God's elect, strangers in the world." Remember that image of believers. Verse 17 goes on to say, "Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear." In 1 Peter 2:11 he continues, "Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires." Peter reminds God's people that earth isn't home. It's like the old hymn, "This world is not my home, I'm just passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue."
According to the Bible, we are all immigrants. Earth is our Ellis Island. We have 70 years here that are just the preparation for billions of years, but the quality of the billions of years is determined by how we live the seventy. If we are just immigrants passing through earth, why are we setting up so much stuff here on Ellis Island? Jesus addresses this issue of accumulation. He says in Luke 12:22, "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear." Verse 24 goes on to say, "Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!" He is saying that for our security, we don't need a stored-up reserve somewhere.
That is the opposite of everything we have been taught about security, but it's actually Biblical security. Jesus continues, "Your Father knows that you need [these things]...Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:30, 33-34). There's no storeroom and no pile of earth stuff. Don't accumulate it in the place you are just visiting.
We are all guilty of the sin of accumulating. We build an earth kingdom, earth reserves, and earth security. One day Jesus may come back and say, "What are you doing with all that? I had a world to reach." He calls us to live simply on this immigrant island and to pour everything else into eternal causes. Give that for which He gave everything He had. If you want a bank full of heaven, then be content with a basketful of earth.