Summary: We live in a world where physical and emotional abuse is the norm. Where can we go that’s safe? I would propose to you that the church should be just such a place.
ILL. Grocery store - Rachael climbing on cart - fell bruised arm and leg real bad - store personal almost panicked - offered to pay for doctor visit - insurance company offered to give us money to sign a release form saying we wouldn’t sue them - later got pictures developed showing bruises - we could have been turned in for child abuse.
Don’t we live in a fun world.
There has been a rash of break-ins in our community lately. We don’t feel quite as safe as we did. Many of you came here today having faced hostility in some form this last week. We live in a world where physical and emotional abuse is the norm.
Where can we go that’s safe?
I would propose to you that the church should be just such a place.
We are the church! God’s church! His physical body here on this earth. If we are to be God’s church, then we must reflect Him in all that are and do.
David described what the church should be in Psalms 27:4-5.
Psalms 27:4-5 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
PEACEFUL AS A SHELTERED DOVE
In an art gallery in Florence, Italy, a visitor can see two rather similar paintings. The one pictures a stormy sea with wild waves and fierce lightning flashing across the sky. In the raging waters the face of a drowning man with an expression of utter despair can be seen just above the surface. The other painting shows an ocean tossed by an equally violent tempest, but in the midst of the waters is a huge rock against which the white-capped breakers dash in vain. In a crevice of that boulder a pigeon is sitting on her nest, quiet and undisturbed by the wild fury of the elements.
Psalms 46:1-7 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
3 Though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Desert Storm: More American Soldiers were killed by "friendly fire" than by the enemy.
I’ve often heard a similar statement made about the church. "The church is the only army that shoots it’s own wounded." That’s a troubling statement, but I’ve seen it proved true far too many times. If we are to be effective for the Lord, the local church must become a place of safety.
Did you know that your home is the most dangerous place you can be? More accidents happen in the home than any other place. The air is more polluted and there are more potential hazards in your home than any where else. Somehow this just doesn’t seem right. Your home should be a place where you are safe.
Likewise, the church should be a place of refuge and safety for the Christian.
Psalms 27:5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
Sometimes, entering the church can be more like entering a battle zone then a safe-haven.
Psalms 9:9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
II Samuel 22:3 My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior--from violent men you save me.
God has always provided a refuge for His people. We find an interesting concept presented by Moses in Numbers 35.
Numbers 35:11-15 Select some towns to be your cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone accidentally may flee.
12 They will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that a person accused of murder may not die before he stands trial before the assembly.
13 These six towns you give will be your cities of refuge.