Dangerous Sunday morning devotions: The Refuge Crisis — He has told you, O man, what does the Lord require of you
This morning as we count the numbers “at” church, let’s remember one of the places where the church is most needed. While I do appreciate a comfortable worship service like most evangelicals on a Sunday morning, the evangelical Christian community should remember, recall it to mind, that it is not sacrifice the Most High seeks, but obedience (1 Samuel 15:22). While ancient Israel worshipped in a temple made with human hands (as we do similarly in our own buildings call "churches" made with human hands), Micah reminded God’s slumbering people:
Even when Jesus was asked about the most important command, Jesus narrowed it down to twins: Love your God with everything you got and love your neighbor as yourself. Nothing about buildings and standing in pew-like rows facing forward toward a group of people or a solo leader singing contemporary choruses with our hands raised and our hearts filled with ease, comfort, and peace. What Jesus did say is to harness what you have, love God and love your neighbor—these are the highest command (together).
How can we not see—in the news, on the radio, blog posts, Facebook news items, tweets—that the world is in one of the worst refugee crises since WWII. Between Syria’s civil war (if you can call it that, there are more than two warring factions) and the rise of ISIS, the Middle East and Europe are facing the worst humanitarian disaster in generations. More than 11 million people are displaced, and easily half of these are under the age of 18.
Wasted Evangelism aims to post Christian mission agencies and NGOs that are directly serving the current refuge crisis. Please do at least one thing to help in this time of crisis.
Pray. Give. Go. Support. Send. Make Aware. Learn.
There are, I am sure, more organizations, but these are a start, and ones I could support myself. I will add to the list as time moves forward and I become more aware of them:
Sometimes we should be deeply impacted by a text of Scripture, not so much as an encouragement or a comfort, but seriously scaring us to death. We are conditioned to seek solace, comfort, encouragement, even exhortation, in the Bible. We are told and, perhaps, have taught others to hold on to its promises. But, this is only half right. We should be consoled by texts meant to console, yet scared to death by texts meant to slay us. Ephesians 3:1-13 is one such text of Scripture (despite most preachers never presenting this path of relevance or application from this pericope of Paul’s words–at least to my knowledge).
“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
Here some of my thoughts that arise from Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus:
I recall, now too many years ago to acknowledge, telling some bible college students that were complaining about the rule that all hats, including baseball caps, were to be taken off inside a campus building:
“If you can’t take off those caps now, what makes you think you’ll be able to die for your faith in some god-forsaken land when all indication seems to indicate that God has abandoned you?”
If you are a Christian (especially a Christian leader), you shouldn’t be able to read Ephesians 3:1-13 with any measure of comfort either—and it should scare the hell out of you, as well. The question remains, nonetheless, where will you go? To whom will you go to? With whom will you live and ministry so that all, that is those now outside the church, may have access to the Father?
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.