I’m ashamed of myself with a confession to make. A charming door-to-door salesman shared his bag’s contents to see if anything caught my eye. He gave a marvellous demonstration of his handy products. I admired his polished presentation & industry (door to door work can be soul destroying) to make an honest pound, but after his spiel he looked up at me, hopeful of a buy, only to get my stingy ‘Sorry & Goodbye.’ Exiting my gate, he mentioned how long it had been since his last sale and my guilt trip started. What a miserable so ‘n so’ I was! I looked to see where he’d gone, but he’d vanishe

“That’s an awful story, Neil!” said my wife. Yes, it is! Sadly, I can be quite mean. Yes, I give a tenth of income to God’s work, help people out and am constantly available to support others, but I’ve a penny-pinching side, which I’m not proud of. Dorothy’s the opposite and can unconsciously give away more than we own. I’ve a degree of self-understanding why I can be more concerned about keeping than giving, and in Christ I have the best life-coach to help me become more generous hearted.

However, this troubling story opened an even more disturbing line of thought about how thoroughly tight-fisted we, in the Christian Church, can be with the Good News of Jesus Christ, withholding our riches ‘in Christ’: Intimacy with God, Purpose & Power for daily living; Forgiveness & freedom to forgive; Hope for Eternal Life; The Spirit’s fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness & self-control; An unconditionally loving family, encouraging community, & so much more.

Cory Asbury’s song ‘Reckless Love’ has haunted me for over a year and we eventually sang it in church yesterday, the chorus:

“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God;

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the 99;
And I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away;
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah!”

The terrible truth, more distressing & upsetting than my miserly treatment of a salesman is our stockpiling of the glorious news of Jesus Christ and concealing of the new life & hope He offers all who come to Him. What holds us back from helping neighbours, colleagues & friends experience and recognise that God is truly ‘for them’ not ‘against them’?

Is today’s Church in Scotland more interested in saving itself than lost souls, more concerned about the 99 safe sheep than the one lost (numbers today maybe more like 10 safe with 90 lost), which Christ, The Shepherd, is scouring to rescue and draw back into God’s thriving, loving purposes? Are we tending goldfish bowls & hugging harbours or out fishing on the lakes & high seas?

 

Forgive me Lord for my stinginess with Christ’s love & light. I want to join Jesus in proving that there is ‘more joy in giving than receiving’ & how much ‘God loves our family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances & enemies enough to give us His one only Son.’ And, If you know who my salesman was, please tell him to visit me again so I can make amends.