The Lord Is My Stronghold

June 9th, 2011

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READ: Psalm 27:1-6

How do you use God’s stronghold?

The area of England in which I live is a place of many strongholds. Here, on the border between Wales and England, the countryside is dotted with great castles, cunningly placed for strategic advantage to control the natural routes through mountain passes or to provide a choke point for taxation and trade. They are impressive even by modern standards, looming up over your head, their embattled walls still bristling with archers in your imagination. Before the advent of the cannon they were, quite simply, the weapons of a “super power”–unanswerable. Some of them were designed only to be places of refuge in times of trouble. Others sheltered permanent small towns behind their walls. The point is, the people didn’t stay in them all the time; they came and went, with the castle as their sure place of safety.

These thoughts were passing through my mind as I read the first part of Psalm 27. Every Christian can indeed say with the Psalmist, “The LORD is the stronghold of my life” (verse 1). But does that mean we never venture beyond the walls of God’s security? It seems to me that there are many ways that people can “be church.” One of them is to appear to live always on the defensive in relation to the world. That is, to be quite content to stay within our Christian communities for worship and for social activities. In effect, we only see Christians–people who share our views. One danger of this is that the church can become a kind of cult. Another is that we fail to be in the world that which Christ calls us to be.

Another possibility, remembering the way people used castles, is to allow the church to be our point of departure and return. In this case, our faces are turned to the world outside, but with the security of the stronghold at our back. Christ, in his brief ministry, never stopped traveling out to the people of the world–the “sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34). Indeed, he said of himself that he did not have anywhere to lay his head (Matthew 8:20). He also said of us, in the image of salt, that salt unsprinkled in the mix of the world misses its purpose (Matthew 5:13).

Ask yourself the question, In my life, how much significant contact do I have with those people? One thing is for sure, the spiritual opposition would be delighted if the church decided just to sit behind its walls and to mind its own business. Make your church a “strategic headquarters,” in the power of God, rather than a bolt-hole from the world.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you reached out to the lost and sad of the world. Help me to make my faith community a well of strength and comfort to the needy. Amen.

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