When I was a pastor in Western Pennsylvania, a young family moved into the area I served and bought some cheap, worthless land. Though it had virtually no value, they were excited because it was theirs. I came across them through a series of circumstances and was asked to visit them at their new property. It was hard to find, but when I finally got there, I was greeted with a rather crude, homemade sign with these words painted on it: “The Promised Land.”
One of the reasons it was worthless was because it was landlocked. There was no right of way into the property. You had to drive through someone else’s property to get there. The only upside was it was far enough out in the boonies that no one really cared. I guess it’s true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Human beings have been in search of good land deals from time in memoriam. The best one I can remember is the one God gave to Abram. It involved a Promised Land and a Savior. The land was difficult to get to, but it was free and clear (sort of). There were a few obstacles, but the deed was his.
The deed (as well as the Savior) has been passed down from generation to generation up to this very moment. The Savior has expanded the definition of the Promised Land for us, but it still belongs to the children of Abraham. We think of it as Heaven or Paradise now, but the deal is the same…no strings attached…free and clear…bought and paid for by the blood of the Lamb.
That’s what the church believes. At lease that’s what we say we believe. But when it comes to sharing the property, we become land grabbers. We begin protecting our turf like there’s no tomorrow. How many different sects, denominations, and other divisions in the church have taken place because we’re right and everyone else is wrong. Everyone else is a squatter. We own the territory, and no one else can traipse across our lawn.
I know I’ve had those kinds of moments, seasons, maybe years in my life. I’m more than a bit ashamed of that. The Promised Land comes with no strings attached. I’m not sure why we feel that not only can we attach strings, but we can fill out the price tag as well. The price has been paid, folks. As people used to like to say back in the 1960’s, “Share the land.”