It is an exciting time for the church, new people are coming and finding Jesus and the promise of Isaiah is once again fulfilled in our age:
“Lift up your eyes round about and see; they all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters will be carried in the arms.”
The refugee crisis across Europe has brought opportunity we could never have dreamt of a few years ago. This is particularly true in Germany; here in the UK, some of us are finding our new members are, for the most part, from the Middle East or Eastern Europe.
But sometimes, too, we have to let go. People move on, maybe join another church, or return home.
This Sunday we bade a sad goodbye to one of our new Iranian brothers. After years of waiting for a positive decision from the Home Office, he is off to work in another city where he also has family and accommodation. I asked the congregation to stretch out their hand in blessing towards him. He went with our love, our heart. Love’s nature is to reach out with an open hand and never clutch for itself, whether people (however dear), ministry or things.
Paul, speaking of material blessing, writes to the Corinthian converts of being enriched in every way in order to be generous in every way; this way of life is win-win – it will cause many people to give thanks to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11)
There is great blessing in open-handedness. Jesus said:
“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38).
These words are spoken in the context of showing godly mercy and forgiveness; I believe they also speak of us, like God, showing generous love.
Open-handedness does not make us poorer; it makes us richer. As we give, God, in a way that only He can choose, gives to us.
Let’s love people, but not cling on; let’s give but be prepared to give away as we learn to leave those we love in God’s hands.