“We do not fully feel the wonder of the passage from death to life which takes place in the new birth till we see it as a transition, not simply out of condemnation into acceptance, but out of bondage and destitution into the ‘safety, certainty, and enjoyment’ of the family of God.”

J.I. PACKER

 

Gone for the Week

This past April, I had the great opportunity of fly down to Orlando, Florida to attend a week long conference with some of my closet friends and mentors. Our group, which was made up of people from Colorado and California, spent almost every minute of the week together. We enjoyed meals together, attended different workshops, and debriefed what our days were like every evening. It was a great week to relax, enjoy the beauty of Orlando in the fall, and hear from some of wisest pastors of my generation.

Throughout the seven days I was at the conference, my wife had to stay back in Colorado because she was unable to get off work for the week. So to stay connected with each other throughout the week we would text, make phone calls, and Skype whenever possible. But because of the craziness of both of our schedules, our time interacting was quite limited.

On one evening during the week, we both had a free two hour block where we could uninterruptedly talk and catch up on life, and we soaked up the opportunity. After the first few minutes of catching up and talking about the conference, I began to ask about what she had been doing while I was gone.

“Hey, love.” I began.

“How has your week been going so far? Have you done anything fun or hung out with any of your friends?”

She responded, “Well, last night I invited one of my friends over to have dinner and spend the night because I didn’t want to be alone. So that was pretty fun.”

I was curious as to why she had one of her friends spend the night with her when I was gone. For me, having the house all to myself would be a great time of relaxing and catching up on reading. And as the non-emotional, linear thinking husband that I am, I was totally confused.

“Why would she have people over while I was gone?” I thought.

She continued to explain, “I didn’t want to stay all alone in our house. Being here without you just isn’t the same. And for the rest of the week I am not going to stay at our house. Because you aren’t here I don’t feel safe and I don’t want to be in our house all by myself. So I am going to stay at my parents. I already talked with my parents and they are totally okay with me staying there for a few days. In fact, they would love to spend a few days with me.”

It was all starting to make sense.

After her explain her reasoning a light bulb went off in my mind. I realized that she wanted to stay in the house she grew up in and be with her parents for a few days because she wanted to feel safe. It had nothing to do with how many locks we had on our front door or the neighborhood we lived in. It was emotional. It was personal. She knew that her parents house was a place where she would feel comfortable and not alone. She was confident that her dad would protect her if anything went wrong and that her mom would spend quality time with her. She was looking to feel safe while I was gone and the one place she felt that was the home she grew up in with her family.

Jesus: The Church

My wife’s desire to be safe and in a place where she was comfortable while I was out of town is analogous to the relationship God wants us to have with the church. The church should be a place where we feel safe and secure. It should be a place where we can come for healing and restoration. It should be a place where transformation and love is ever-present, and there is no greater model for what the church is supposed to be and how we to be a part of it than in the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus is the model for the Church and a perfect example of what we’re called to be as the family of God.

Within Jesus’ ministry he perfectly modeled safety and security. He was a place of refuge for the broken and he was a place of acceptance for the forgotten. That is why the apostle Paul said the church was the “body of Christ.” This means that we are the manifest presence of Jesus himself. Because of this, the family of God should a direct manifestation of Jesus’ life of healing, transformation, and comfort.