“Give counsel; grant justice; make your shade like night at the height of noon; shelter the outcasts; do not reveal the fugitive; let the outcasts of Moab sojourn among you; be a shelter to them from the destroyer…”
If you read the blog from yesterday, and look at Isaiah 15, you’ll see an account of the judgement against Moab. It continues in Isaiah 16, but verses 3-4 are different. In Isaiah 16:3-4, God addresses Israel’s response to the judgement, and we can learn a lot of God’s heart, and the way that He wants us to respond in these circumstances.
God calls Israel to shelter the outcasts, and to be a shelter for them. As the church, we’re called to be a refuge for the hurting and the broken. We’re called to be a refuge for the lost, and the outcasts. Basically, the people who feel like they can’t be accepted anywhere, and that they are complete social outcasts should feel welcomed as they walk through the doors of a church. It always saddens me to hear of people who attended churches, and left because they didn’t feel welcomed. As the church, we’re called to be the most loving, most welcoming people out there, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the brokenness that people bring. Our church is called by God to be a refuge for the broken.
This is something that makes me proud to be a part of our church, Calvary Chapel of Wilmington. We’ve heard testimony after testimony of people who have come to our church, and seen God move in their lives as our congregation showed Jesus’ love to them. I can even think of a few times where someone was recommended to our church, because they knew that we would love them as they walked through the things that they were dealing with.
Church, this is what we’re called to. Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus didn’t say that we would be known by our bumper stickers, or our Bible verses on Facebook. He didn’t say that people would be able to identify us as His disciples when they saw how much we highlighted our Bibles, or when they heard how many verses we could quote. He said that the thing that would set us apart from the rest of the world was the way that we loved.
That means that no matter who God puts in front of you, and no matter how many problems they are dealing with, we’re called to bring them in. We’re called to welcome them with open arms.
I can remember when I was in high school. My dad was a police chaplain, and through this he was introduced to a homeless woman. She was in her 80s, and she lived out of her car. My parents prayed about it for a few days, then we brought her into our home for the winter. She lived with us for several months. I didn’t understand it completely. I thought it was weird, and she was crazy. It wasn’t always fun. It was very often inconvenient. But we showed her Jesus’ love, just like He told us to.
Church, this world is full of people that aren’t accepted. Pretty much every stereotype is rejected by someone. We’re called to be the ones who will accept everyone.Regardless of their background, regardless of how messy their life is. Regardless of the struggles that they bring with them.
And I’ll tell you why. We’re called to this, because more often than not, nobody else will. Nobody else will be a refuge and a safe haven for the broken and the hurting.
If I still haven’t convinced you, think of this. You were sinning against God. You had set your life against Him. Ephesians 2 says that you were even His enemy. But even then, God accepted you. GOD ACCEPTED YOU. If a holy and perfect God can accept us, it’s time for us to start accepting others. I’m sick of hearing stories of the church telling women that God hates them because they had an abortion. I’m sick of seeing posters that say “God hates fags” If you’re doing that, either stop doing, or stop associating yourself with Jesus. That isn’t His heart! Jesus loves the broken! Remember, He’s telling Israel to love the same people that He is judging. You see, God will deal with sin, but this isn’t from hate. It’s because a standard has been broken and repercussions must follow. We’re not God. We’re not called to judge people for breaking His standards. He’ll deal with that. We’re called to love them through the hard times, and show them His heart for them. He wants them to return to Him.
If you’re one of those, sick and broken, hurting and lost, down and out, if you feel like you’re an outsider, I need you to know that Jesus loves you, and because of that, I love you too. You’re welcome here.