Today is World Refugee Day. It’s a day to remember and honour the strength and perseverance of refugees the world over, to recognize their courage, and to show that we stand with them. Leaders around the world and the church have made or no doubt will be making comments to mark this day, and I’m sure you’ve probably already read something about how Jesus himself was a refugee. Since you’ve heard that message already I won’t repeat it; I’ll share another thought.
What if you were a refugee too?
Another way of saying ‘refugee’ is ‘displaced person’ or ‘in exile’. The root of the word comes from the French language and is all to do with seeking refuge, needed to find a safe place from fear, persecution, hurt. The Bible, not surprisingly, has a lot to say about these things. If we go all the way back to the beginning, there are many tales of exile, from Adam and Eve to Moses and the Israelites. If we continuing reading God’s story to our today, we see that we are exiles too.
“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles…” – 1 Peter 2:11
There it is. We are the ‘us’. We are the foreigners and exiles. This world is not our home. Though we might live here right now, though we might make it wonderful and beautiful for our God, our real home is elsewhere. Our real home is with Jesus. So until we make our glorious homecoming, we, friends, are exiles.
Or maybe we aren’t…
A little while ago I was listening to the new album from Hillsong Worship. There is a beautiful song called ‘Let there be light’ and as I was listening to it words from the lyrics struck me. At the time I was listening, I had been talking to friends from my church back home in the UK. We are a wonderfully diverse church with many different cultures and languages. In our family there are ‘refugees’ who have found safety and security in our town. We had been talking about how we can continue to foster an even greater sense of unity, and so the words I heard sung that day, if you pardon the pun, really hit home.
There’s no borders in your blood
No division in your heart
There’s no borders in your blood. Isn’t that amazing? In Christ’s blood, there are no borders. In Christ, we are not British or American or Nepalese or African or French or Jamaican or Scottish or Irish or anything other than His. And loved. And home.
In Christ, there are no borders, no country lines, no languages or nations. In Christ, we are all home. And in the end, exile or not, native-born or expat like me, the country on our passport or the place we were born isn’t what matters most. Not in God’s story. What matters is where we end up – with Him.
The story of Ruth is one of my favorite Bible stories. I read and re-read it often, and a while back I posted my journaling in that book. You can read the full post here, but I shared words from the introduction to the book of Ruth in The Message. It reads like this:
In its artful telling of this “outsider” widow, uprooted and obscure, who turns out to be the great-grandmother of David and the ancestor of Jesus, the book of Ruth makes it possible for each of us to understand ourselves, however ordinary or “out of it”, as irreplaceable in the full telling of God’s story. We count – every last one of us – and what we do counts.
Ruth was an outsider, an exile. People would probably have written her off as such. But her life mattered – she had a great part to play in God’s story, a part so important: “…she gave birth to a son…and they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.” Ruth 4:13, 17.
So today on World Refugee Day, remember that it is not an ‘us’ and ‘them’. We are all, in Christ, away from our true home, and we are all united. We can all seek and find refuge in Him and in His grace. And wherever we come from, wherever we end up, we all matter. What we do counts, so today make it something good.