The law of supply-and-demand is something we face every day. Because there are those who need, there must also be those who provide. There are employers and employees. There are counsellors and counselees. There are teachers and teachees (I couldn't resist).
But it breaks down when it comes to refugees. There aren't enough "refugers" to meet the demand.
Back in the days when the Hebrews settled in Canaan, they set up cities of refuge. People who were in danger—even those guilty of wrongdoing—could escape to one of these six cities and find personal relief and refreshment.
Don't misunderstand. These weren't sleazy dumping grounds for hardened criminals. These were territories dedicated to the restoration of those who had made mistakes. People who had blown it could flee to one of these places of refuge and not have those inside throw rocks at them.
Today, we have lots of places to meet and sing. To pray. To hear talks from big wooden pulpits. To watch fine things happen. Yes, even to participate occasionally in the action. But where is the place of refuge for those whose lives have gotten soiled in the streets?
More often than we want to admit, we're bad Samaritans. We're notorious for not knowing what to do with our wounded. Getting in there and cleaning up those ugly wounds and changing bloody bandages and taking the time to listen and encourage, well...let's be practical, we're not running a hospital around here.
That makes good sense until you or I need emergency care. Like when you discover your husband is a practising homosexual. Or your unmarried daughter is pregnant and isn't listening to you. Or your parent is an alcoholic. Or you get dumped in jail for shoplifting. Or you blew it financially. Or you lost your job and it's your own fault. Or your wife is having an affair. Or your dad or mom or mate or child is dying of cancer.
Thankfully, in the church today, there are a few lights to help the hurting find their way back. There are dozens and dozens of small groups in churches across our land comprised of caring, authentic, but very human Christians who are committed to growing friendships and deepening relationships. Good Samaritans who have compassion. May their tribe increase!
These are our modern-day cities of refuge.
Genuine, New Testament Christianity doesn't hang out at headquarters; it gets into the trenches with the wounded and weary.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.