The LORD said to Abram „Leave your country, your people and your father´s home and go to the land which I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you … All people on earth will be blessed through you. So Abram left, as the LORD had told him.
Gen. 12, 1 – 4 a
At all times, people have left their home for a new better world. They left everything behind to find a better future. Currently we are experiencing this in Europe. People leave their home countries, even leaving their families behind, seeking protection. Looking for happiness in a better world.
According to UNHCR Germany, at the end of 2016, 65.6 million people worldwide were on the run. Around 22.5 million of these people are refugees fleeing from conflicts, persecution or serious human rights violations. 55% of refugees worldwide come from South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria.
I know people who had to leave because of their Christian faith. People being persecuted because of their faith in Jesus Christ in their home country. We Europeans are aware of this even if it's a long time ago. The emigration of many Christians to America comes to mind. When the Mayflower sailed across the Atlantic to New England in 1620, these pilgrims hoped for freedom of faith in the New World.
Escape has nothing to do with Abram´s story. Abram was not on the run. His journey for a new land was God´s unique call. God's way with Abram is a very special, unique way. But there are three statements in this old text that make me think. Those who have something to do with my Christian faith:
God told Abram, "Go!" God asked him to leave everything behind. His home country, his relatives. Everything. I know life stories that were similar. People who had to leave behind everything that they cherished and which was dear to them. Not because God asked them to, but because life brought with it such radical changes. Someone had to start from scratch after a divorce, or after losing his or her job. A heart attack or a stroke, living in a nursing home - dramatic turning points in life. And suddenly it says: Go to "unknown country".
Go! But where to? Abram had only a vague idea of what was to be expected in it for him. God said: I'll show you the land where you're going to. I am your tour guide on this way into new territory! I know how you get there. I know what to expect.
2. Go with a tour guide!
A few weeks ago I was traveling by train again. I had to change, but the connecting train had missed it´s schedule. I found another train connection and wanted to continue when a woman approached me on the platform. She did not know how to get ahead and asked for help. We had the same destination! She went together with me. When we arrived she said: I am so glad I met you! I don´t know how I should have managed this without your help.
It is great to have somebody who knows the way. If we have a tour guide on the way to an unknown country. If somebody accompanies us and shows us the way how to get ahead. Incidentally, children constantly need this accompaniment on their way to grow up. Adults have to show them the steps into their life and along the way.
But we as adults need a "tour guide" through life as well. This "tour guide" is Jesus Christ. He is even the way himself! Jesus Christ says: “I am the way, the truth and the life! Without me, no one can go to the Father.” (John 14: 6). In my ways through time, through life, I am accompanied by the one who is the way and the destination. It couldn´t be better!
Life is always a departure, leaving for an uncertain future. God is always calling for leaving the old life behind and travelling the new way with him. Jesus calls: Come to me! Because I am the way to life, the way to the Father.
3. Stay blessed!
God promises Abram his blessing on his way. He is blessed in travelling and in arrival. We too are blessed people when we depart with God. If we leave the old life behind. When we separate ourselves from guilt and sin. When we leave the burdens of the past behind. When we come to Jesus Christ and arrive.
We too will be blessed in all major or minor steps in our life. Being blessed means to me: God is and remains with me. Each day we can leave and arrive in his presence. No matter what my life situation looks like today. God tells me in the morning: go! Go forward into this day! Take courageous steps. I'm with you. Go to Jesus Christ. His call to you means: come! HE is the destination of this day: his fellowship, his love, his comfort, his hope.
We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete (Heb.12: 2).
Abram, whom God later called Abraham, became a blessing to all mankind. The first words in the New Testament start as follows: "Jesus Christ came from the family of King David and also from the family of Abraham." (Matthew 1: 1) In Jesus Christ, God´s son, he completes his blessing story with us. Every human being is invited to be blessed by Jesus Christ. Every human being may himself become a blessing to others. Perhaps this idea is new territory?
The Lord Jesus Christ said (Mt. 25): I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I have been ill and you have visited me. I have been in prison, and you have come to see me. How about accompanying our fellow human beings in the new territory of need, desolation and loneliness? This new territory is constantly around us. The question is: do we want to step into it?
Being Christian is a dynamic life. It is the daily journey between the "Go!" to which God invites us and the "Come!" to which The Lord Jesus Christ invites us. Coming to the cross at Golgotha. "The blessing promised by God to Abraham should be bestowed on all nations by the death of Jesus on the cross" (Galatians 3:14). God bestows us with His Holy Spirit when we say Yes to this gift of faith.
Wishing You a blessed week
Translation by R.Jordan