“The Lord has founded Zion,
and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.” Isaiah 14:32
I have found myself thinking a lot about the church in the last day or so. This is no doubt prompted by Tope’s excellent sermon on Sunday. But what strikes me afresh is how easy it is to take for granted the best institution on earth, if it is even fair to call her an institution. The church is a body, and although at times she is indeed sick, there is nothing like her on this planet! If the church is founded and established as God intended she will be a magnet for people who are afflicted or distressed. She can provide a nurturing environment that can in many cases heal better than a decade of weekly counselling.
Refuge is such a wonderful word. When you feel all at sea, when life is buffeting you, the peace that a good church can bring into your life is astonishing. I am talking abut a church that doesn’t just teach grace but lives it. I am talking about a place where your warts will lead to understanding not rejection. I am talking about a welcome that extends to all. An acceptance that takes you as you are, but lovingly propels you to a better life.
O, how the church can be distorted at times. She was never meant to be like that angry aunt every child knows to run from. Rather she should be like the kindly mother-figure that you instinctively run to, jump in their lap, and feel totally at liberty to laugh or cry with.
One day you will be afflicted. Maybe not yet. Maybe in a long time. But, beloved, make sure you are part of such a church, because in the day of trouble you do not want to be searching for your spiritual home. Better yet you are part of building such a church. Today it may well be your turn to bring comfort to someone else. For sure, the day will come when you yourself will need such comfort.
Ask the Lord today, does my church provide a refuge? If not, is there anything I can do about that? Life is too short to play games. May God find each of my readers a place where they can know the love of God revealed through the people of God, and the presence of God in the house of God.