“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:1-6, 31-32 NKJV
Lord, make me a refuge for my sisters and brothers, make my heart open, and raw. May my mouth usher forth words of healing and edification for all I encounter. Let me be accountable and hold others accountable with love and understanding. Help me to remember that we are all refugees in this fallen world. We have left a world filled with sin, and entered the peaceful place in Christ. Amen.
I am returning to church this Sunday. I took a break when the COVID infection rates began to climb, as I am one who is immunally compromised, with a multitude of underlying conditions. I have been home alone in my bubble for four plus months. I have watched the church services online, longingly, as I missed the fellowship, and the opportunity to play music with the worship band. Now, with vaccine in arm, it is time to get back in the game.
This morning I spent a little time in Ephesians reading about unity in the church. It seemed to be a fitting topic to read, as I will be going from my livingroom to my favorite pew. I will be among those others in my congregation who also call upon the name of the Lord.
As our world changes, and values seem to be more oriented to self rather than God or others, I feel as though we, who believe the bible and seek to live by the power of the Holy Spirit, are refugees. It is increasingly apparent that we no longer belong. At every opportunity, those of the world bash us, seek to marginalize us, and label us as haters and evil.
Fellowship in the local church has become essential, as it has become a refugee center, where people under like pressure, can come together for support. As I prepare to return, I am also aware of my need to be a refuge unto myself, a safe place for others. When we come together on Sunday, we are emerging from week in a world where we are not native, where we don’t speak the lingo, where we are the aliens, feeling the daily stress of trying to adjust to an ever changing moral space.
Years ago I served in a ministry filled with broken people called Celebrate Recovery. I have found myself thinking often of that experience, as we had to be a church with in a church, ministering to the lost and the saved, each a damaged refugee from life in sin. We met each with understanding and longsuffering. We bore one anothers burdens, and did all things with love. Love is more than essential in the greater church.
When I walk into Grace Fellowship on Sunday, I will be rejoining the body of believers, united by the blood of Jesus. We are of one body, one faith, and one baptism. We are called to one mission: to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray that I will be that refuge for the refugees, that person in who is found safety. We all need that in these perilous times.
Brothers and sisters, let us be a refuge for each other. Let us make it a point to provide cover for each other when we meet, that we can relax and feel the peace that comes when the body comes together. May the Lord remind us that we are one body, made up of many essential parts, all knitted together, speaking truth in love.
“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
Ephesians 4:15-16 NKJV
The world we live in is going to become more and more hostile to those who dare believe the bible and dare further to actually do what it says. We will be disengaged from the society and set adrift, rejected and maligned. Fellowship with other believers may be the only respite from the pressures from the world. It is also the place where we will receive our strength, as we seek to live out our faith, witnessing to all who will hear.
We are reaching out to people being destroyed by the world they love. They too are refugees. May we be a place of sanctuary.
Pray the Lord make the church a refuge!