Sarah Connor didin’t know she needed Kyle Reese to save her. He just showed up and did it.
Thomas A. Anderson (Neo) thought he was doing alright…until Morpheus showed up and saved him from a danger he didn’t know existed.
Both Connor and Anderson were aware of some sort of trouble, but neither were aware that their lives, the lives of everyone, were at stake. They desperately needed help and they didn’t even know it. I think this describes us.
Am I over-reacting?
While futuristic, machine-lead genocide in unlikely anytime soon, frankly, 2020 has caused me not to rule out anything. It’s been a helluva year, and 2021 promises no magic resolutions just because the numbers on our calendars change.
Therefore, we need help. We need a refuge.
Of course, eternally speaking, our help, our Refuge has already arrived in Christ:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
Is there a Refuge in trouble?
But let’s not forget the second sentence while hoping in the third. We will have trouble. Jesus provides for us in the midst of trouble with:
- His Holy Spirit
- Equipping and gifting
So, take a moment and think about the parallels to stories like the Matrix or The Terminator. The “savior” shows up personally. The “savior” fights for the hero. The “savior” trains and equips the hero and finally (and the point of this post), the “savior” gives the hero team mates, creates a safe place to strike out from; a place for rest and equipping, for nourishment and encouragment.
Did you know that you need a reuge? We all do.
More and more, our world is defined by unrest and craziness. From every angle of human experience (the natural world, politics, and culture) danger seems to stalk us. Nothing seems predictable or dependable anymore. Furthermore, the institutions and organizations we’ve depended on for guidance have all seemed to lose their own way.
Maybe a little too literal?
Risking a profound overstatement here, sometimes it feels like we are all refugees, seeking asylum from the threats and instability of our native lands; risking sea, desert and violence to find anywhere stable and safe.
So, perhaps it’s not a good metaphor, simply because it’s not a metaphor at all. According to the U.N. there were nearly 80 million displaced people worldwide at the end 2019. Can you imagine? 80 million people with no permanent place to call home. Nothing stable. 80 million seeking refuge.
So, yeah. We all need a refuge. A place of peace and sanity.
Mostly, it’s a place where we know and are known. A place where truth, reconciliation, the Presence of God and hope in Christ form the secure walls and the warm welcome.
What about the church as refuge?
Even what most call “the church” seems unreliable these days. At best, the pandemic makes it unsafe to attend weekend services in person, so we suffer alone. At worst, the threats of heretical teaching, judgment, apathy or outright criminal intent make any attendance risky. What most of us have called “church” has become difficult to access and sometimes unsafe. It’s likely not going to get better soon.
So there seems to be a universal instinct, maybe a “design feature” placed in us by God, to seek out something smaller, simpler and familiar when everything around us becomes ponderous and threatening. A small lifeboat amidst the sinking hulk of the Titanic. Not a place to hide. A place to re-group, to gather and to provision. A place of Peace and Sanity from where we can strike out into the cold, dark and raging waters around us in search of more refugees.
Is this an overly-dramatic call to join an E-Group at Allen Creek?
Maybe. But take a look at the headlines. Watch just 30 minutes of cable news, stroll a downtown Seattle street, visit the Everett Gospel Mission or (if you could) stand in the Providence Emergency Department for an hour. Ask a single income family with no internet connection, a DSHS social worker or public school teacher if they need refuge.
Ask yourself, “Where do I feel safe and at peace?”