A refugee is, by definition,
a person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.
So a spiritual refugee is someone who has a well-founded fear of being the subject of hostility or ill treatment because of his or her spiritual condition and who has left the church and is unable or unwilling to avail him or herself of the church’s protection and services.
Or, if you have not yet left the church, perhaps you are an Internally Displaced Person. An IDP is someone who,
has not crossed the border but shares many characteristics with refugees. They also cannot avail themselves of international law because they remain inside their own country. They are largely inaccessible to outside monitors and assistance because they remain within their borders.
So a spiritual internally displaced person is someone who is still within the church but who receive ill treatment and hostility because they have nowhere else to go. They feel trapped and that they have no recourse.
This is the problem with those who grow discontent with the church. They are either in unhappily or out altogether. It is a terrible choice to make that some find liberating and others find extremely terrifying. Just like refugees and internally displaced persons.
Perhaps you are a good and happy citizen of a good and happy church. In which case I am genuinely happy for you. I would encourage you to remember and do what you can for those I’ve been writing about above.
But if you find yourself within the church and feel that it has become detrimental to your spiritual health, or if you have left the church for this very reason, then it might be helpful to understand yourself as a refugee or an internally displaced person.
I will write more about this tomorrow.