Refuge in God, the Church (Psalm 2)

Why do the nations rant? Why do the peoples rave uselessly?
The earth’s rulers take their stand; the leaders scheme together
    against the Lord and against his anointed one.
        “Come!” they say. “We will tear off their ropes
        and throw off their chains!”
The one who rules in heaven laughs; my Lord makes fun of them.
But then God speaks to them angrily; then he terrifies them with his fury:
        “I hereby appoint my king on Zion,
my holy mountain!”

I will announce the Lord’s decision: He said to me, “You are my son,
        today I have become your father.
Just ask me, and I will make the nations your possession;
    the far corners of the earth will be your property.
You will smash them with an iron rod;

you will shatter them like a pottery jar.”

10 So kings, wise up! Be warned, you rulers of the earth!
11 Serve the Lord reverently—trembling, 12 kiss his feet
        or else he will become angry, and your way will be destroyed
    because his anger ignites in an instant.

But all who take refuge in the Lord are truly happy! (Psalm 2:1-12, Common English Bible)

I thought I would share a story (actually more of an idea) with you I ran across in Homiletics Online, an online magazine used by many preachers. I have subscribed since 1998. Other than Homiletics I have no idea who to credit. The writer isn’t named.

“Maybe it’s time for a remake of Frank Capra’s beloved 1946 film, It’s a Wonderful Life — only this time, with the main character being not a banker, but a minister. Clarence, the clumsy but well-meaning angel, would escort the Rev. George Bailey not to an imaginary Bedford Falls bereft of a savings-and-loan, but one without a single church.

“What would it be like to live in such a community? Would there be the same levels of volunteerism, of civility, of simple human kindness?

What would happen to the teenager who’s been finding refuge from his abusive family in the church’s youth group? Or the divorced single mother who discovered that her volunteer experience as a Sunday School teacher helped her find employment as a teacher’s aide in the local school? Or the potential suicide whose life was changed after sitting down with the pastor in Starbucks for a cup of coffee and a heart-to-heart chat?

Our churches are worth more than we could ever imagine. What we have is more than a building. Of course, the Church is not a building at all. But, that said, even our buildings are worth more than we might think. Sure a dollar figure can be given to a building. A building costs so much to build. A building costs another amount to insure.

Our buildings are worth more than money because for many, they are a refuge from the storms of the world. The church is a place to escape, even if for a short time, the difficulties of life. For a period, we can find refuge from whatever it is that brings weight upon our shoulders. It is a place to learn. It is a place to find peace. It is a place for experience. It is a place with ears to listen.

The question has been asked, “If this church were to close its doors today, would anyone notice.” I would hope so. I would hope so for all he reasons I just said.

But, here is the thing, the building is not what makes the real difference. And in truth, the only refuge a building can offer is physical protection. It can keep the rain off our heads, it might give us refuge from the dark. We can find refuge in the building but it is all about the physical.

The psalmist speaks of refuge in God and how that refuge brings us to a place of joy. The building might be a place to escape, but we really escape to God, and that escape, that protection is of the spirit and it lasts longer than an hour on Sunday morning. Yes, we can feel weight lifted, but it is God who lifts the weight, not a building. Yes, the church building can be a place where we learn, but it is God who is the real teacher. Yes, we gain experience but God leads us in the way of light and life, and in God is where we gain experience. The Church is a place of listening ears. But, while people may listen, God never fails to hear. We always pray the Church might be a place of peace, but we pray because we know that God is the origin of peace.

When we take our refuge in anything of this world, even the Church building, we must remember, the refuge is temporary. We always find real and lasting refuge in the arms of Almighty God.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Searching for the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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