“Olly, Olly, Oxen Free!”
One of my favorite songs by the Beatles is Rain. The oft times uber-cynical John Lennon opens the song with…
“If the rain comes, they run and hide their heads, they might as well be dead. If the rain comes. When the sun shines, they slip into the shade and sip their lemonade.”
As we experience more in our lives, don’t we tend to hide from unpleasantness? Fearing the unknown? Albeit, unpleasant and fearful from our perspective.
Would people suffering from an extended drought run from the Rain? When the sun shines in the rain soaked British Isles, do people seek shade? The sound of thunder and the flash of lightning sends us scurrying for shelter. Still, we’ll watch and listen to fireworks in awe. Perspective can become our taskmaster, clouding our vision, leading us away from those perceived, “uncomfortable” feelings and threatening situations.
Growing up in Iowa my winters were frigid and snowy, summers hot and humid. As a young boy, you would usually find me outside playing. No matter the weather.
Most of my time as an adult has been spent indoors, with complete access to climate control. After all, summer is too hot, winter too cold. People tend to define comfort levels in extremes. Summer is always too hot, winter is always too cold. Usually, in-line with everyone else. When the weatherman says stay inside. We do. Sitting comfortably in our shelters talking about the weather.
My perspective of comfort has changed radically. Those years playing in the snow and sunshine were some of my fondest memories. Comfortable in my playing and unaware of the weather. As an adult my summers seem to have been spent moving from an air-conditioned car to an air-conditioned house, or to my air-conditioned office. When winter comes, hibernation has been my strategy for survival. Over the years, my distain for snow and cold led me to Arizona. Only to find everyone hibernating as well. Like a lot of Iowan’s spend their Winters inside. It is rare to see people enjoying the outdoors amid the Blistering Hot Arizona summer.
What would our pioneering forefathers think of us today? Those drafty log cabins up north had only a fireplace for warmth. Air conditioning was unheard of in the rickety Conestoga Wagons winning the west. In Arizona, they refer to the years before the population exploded in the 50’s and 60’s as BAC. “Before Air Conditioning”.
Why is it we hide? Why do we seek refuge from the things we perceive to be unpleasant or dangerous? Because We Can! Mankind is resilient, and we will go to extreme lengths to be comfortable, be safe and to “feel” good.
Growing up, my family spent every thunderstorm warning, storm or not, in a 3’ x 8′ storm shelter under our house. Sometimes our hibernation could last hours, with nothing but a static filled a.m. radio, a handful of flashlights and each other.
My Mom went through a Tornado as a young girl. That experience changed her forever. She would go to any lengths not to suffer that terror again. Including, insisting that my Dad buy a house in the city that had a concrete storm/bomb shelter. She put all her faith in that refuge of concrete under our front porch.
The storm she went through as a girl changed her perspective of what could happen. She knew the destruction, she knew the fear of being helpless. Even though she was deep underground in the family Storm Shelter on their farm. She felt the fear and saw the aftermath of the obliteration caused by the tornado. Unlike those people that ignore storm and Hurricane warnings, choosing instead to wait out the storm with little to no concern. Mom knew what could happen. After all of the fear of ensured destruction, and hours spent in refuge. Interestingly, we never experienced a damaging storm, and our old house is still standing decades later.
As Christians, we know what can happen as well. Scripture is very clear about what awaits those who live their life without God. Some even know from personal experience the ravages of a life without God. Is it any wonder we seek refuge?
Finding a perceived refuge from the world can make us feel safer while we wait on our Savior’s return. Like Mom, it seems so many take it to extremes. Putting their faith in the things of the world, not God. We hide in the refuge of our churches; not as a Holy Sanctuary, but as shelter from all the things of the world. Instead of gathering together to grow stronger, to empower us to take on the World in the name of God. We bury our heads in a building. Huddling with other believers until the storm passes. We also protect ourselves and our families by surrounding everybody with only acceptable influences. Only the right music, TV and Movies. In a sense, hiding from evil.
People often quote Galatians 6:1 to me to rationalize hiding from the world.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
Isn’t our mission to grow the Kingdom of God? How can we do that if we hide in our spiritual storm shelters? Surrounding ourselves with only people re-born in Christ? People that think, pray and act like us. After all, aren’t they already part of the Kingdom of God? How can we relate to anyone living apart from Christ if we don’t comprehend their world?
Sure, God tells us repeatedly in scripture to seek refuge. However, not with each other, not in a building, but in Him! Still, we exile ourselves in a self-induced, spiritual 3′ x 8′ bomb shelter. Believing it will protect us from the spiritual warfare of the world. It won’t.
Sadly, even in what appears to be a protected environment of like-minded believers isn’t completely safe. Aren’t there still temptations, greed and pride? Even in the best Church’s? We’ve all seen it. There is only One Refuge from the evils of the world. God!
Playing Hide & Seek
My experience with some Christians leads me to believe they are playing a spiritual game of Hide & Seek. Hiding from the World while seeking God. That is not what God wants us to do. Instead, aren’t we to go into the world and spread the Good News of Christ Jesus?
“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” Mark 16:15
The old cliché “Preachin’ to the Choir” comes to mind when considering how we spend all our time with like minded Christians. Fellowship with believers is important. In fact, it is vital! That is how we “re-charge” our spirit and study the Word of God; giving us our strength, purpose and armor for the battles in the World.
Courage is when, filled with the Holy Spirit, we step from our Sanctuaries, into the world as disciples of the living God, Christ Jesus. It is then, and only when we are in the World, not of the World, that we can truly be “Fishers of Men”.
“Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.” Philippians 2:15-25
As Christians, we are the hands and feet of Christ Jesus. Our mission is to go into the world and represent Him. We are not created to hide in a Church, nor a community of like-minded believers; while seeking God. In my experience, we find God when we are servants, helping others. We rejoice and experience God’s Peace, Love and Joy when someone accepts Christ into their heart. Does it make sense to wait for them to come to Church?
“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”
1 Corinthians 12:27
Did Jesus sit in a temple and wait for people to come to Him? If we are like Jesus, we are in the World. Not of the world. We are stoic in sharing God’s Good News, knowing that God Blesses Us not for Us, but so that we can Bless Others!
“Olly, Olly, Oxen Free!”
Come Out, Come Out. Wherever You Are!