(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)
“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20
We are stardust; we are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden – Joni Mitchell
There are over 26 million refugees worldwide fleeing such countries as Syria, Afghanistan, Venezuela, South Sudan, Myanmar and now Ukraine. Not to even begin to imply that our lot should even be on the same page as the horrible conditions these millions of displaced people are going through, nevertheless, there is a sense that believers are refugees, too, from heaven.
The Bible is all about refugees. You’ve got the children of Israel in exile to neighboring cities numerous times — it was always their fault, but it still happened. Most of the prophets were homeless. And, of course, Adam and Eve — thus all of us — are refugees from the garden, and that’s no joke. We’ve been displaced from the beginning, and we’ve been looking for our home ever since. Larry Norman was only visiting this planet; he’s back home now.
But for the clearest example of a refugee in the New Testament you need go no further than Jesus, who, though He grew up in a home in Nazareth, left there when He started His ministry and never looked back. He and His disciples were basically homeless. You never hear of them getting together to study the Torah at Jesus’s place.
The Bible says that He left His throne and came as a refugee to the human race. He had a home in heaven, but He left it to come to us. He was a refugee of God who came to identify with us, and His identification was with the lowest of the low.
Why? Because He wanted to remind everyone that His kingdom was not of this world. Had He come in earthly power and glory He would have sown confusion and forced His kingdom to vie with worldly, earthly kingdoms for power, but that was never His intent. His kingdom was and is on an entirely different level. God’s truth is countercultural. His kingdom is subversive to all earthly kingdoms. It is a kingdom under others to serve, not a kingdom over others to rule.
I think that He also identified with the refugee because of empathy. He wanted to understand what it was like to be the lowest, because these were His kind of people. He was going to make a kingdom out of these folks. (We have to realize, when we see the homeless and the refugee, that these people are perhaps closer to the kingdom of heaven than we are.)
The Pharisees rarely invited Jesus over because of the crowd that came with Him. They were embarrassed by these people (like we might have been); Jesus was right at home. His will has always been to lift up the lowly and bring down the proud. He’s building His kingdom and it is not of this world. We may need to adjust some thinking, because the kingdom of God is made up of refugees so we ought to be kind to all refugees. We must remember that we are refugees, too. We got booted out of the garden, but Christ is leading us back. The refugee from heaven is leading us refugees back home.