1 So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. Soon his brothers and all his other relatives joined him there. 2 Then others began coming—men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented—until David was the captain of about 400 men.
1 Samuel 22: 1-2 (NLT)
Psalm 16:1 Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.
What is the Theology of Refuge?
Refuge Ministries is being built around the idea of being a church of God ’s unconditional love, where lives are transformed and reconditioned for partnership with God in accomplishing His will in the world. The word church, or ecclesia in the original text, means those who are called out. The church is not a place; it is a people who have been called by God for a task.
The Biblical metaphor for a church of refuge is found in the story told in I Samuel 22:1,2. Soon to be King David was hiding from King Saul in the Cave of Adullum . Saul had heard that David had been anointed by God to be the next king, so feeling threatened; he was pursuing David in order to kill him. As David hid from Saul, 400 men came to join him. The men who joined him were family members, friends and former soldiers of Saul’s.
The Bible says that these men were in distress, in debt and discontented. They were running from something and trying to find purpose, hope and a reason to live. David welcomed them, loved them and trained them. These same men who joined David, later became known as David’s Mighty Men, the greatest fighting force has ever known. This story can also be seen as a metaphor for what the church of Jesus Christ is called to look like in our day. The church can be a place where the broken, hurting and hopeless can find a reason to live.
The Goal of Refuge Ministries like David is offering three things to People
I. A Place of Refuge for People
A church of refuge needs to be a place where God’s unconditional love is taught and modeled by all who attend. Everyone is welcome in a place of refuge, even if they are the ones the church has traditionally shunned.
II. A Place of Renewal for People
7 My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises! 8 Wake up, my heart! Wake up, O lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. 9 I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. 10 For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth.
Psalm 57:7-11 (NLT)
A church of Refuge is a place where renewal and transformation is expected. We welcome anyone, but we don’t apologize about holding one other spiritually accountable. Sin (which means to miss the mark) separates man from God. Any spiritual journey that does not address sin’s destructive power will not result in renewal & transformation. If we are real followers of King Jesus, we are not to leave the “Cave” the same way we came in. We come into the presence of His unconditional love not simply to bask but to be changed. Those men didn’t spend time decorating the cave…it was only a place where their lives were to be changed. Our buildings are simply the “Caves” where we gather to be changed for God’s glory.
III. A Place of Release for People
Thirdly, David inspired these men to boldly proclaim a new kingdom. The church of today needs to demonstrate that there is a new King in town! His name is Jesus. By following Jesus, by acting like him and by allowing our lives to be shaped by His Holy Spirit who lives within us, we can partner with God to accomplish His will in the world. When God does what He does, He does it through people. The people that He uses to help establish His reign are those who have found Him to be loving and trustworthy and whose lives His Spirit has transformed. Once we are Renewed we then are Released to do ministry.
This is the model that we use to remind us of our Refuge Theology.
We need to always be talking about REFUGE, RENEWAL, & RELEASE to keep us on track and to constantly keep us aware of why we exist.
The church may meet in a cathedral or a storefront, but wherever it meets, it is simply a Cave where broken lives are to be transformed in order to partner with God.
And remember every person who comes in should find REFUGE, RENEWAL, & RELEASE...