Numbers 35 details the concept of “cities of refuge.” These towns were set up so that, if one person accidentally killed another person, there would be a place to stay and live while the kin of the killed person remained alive. While in the city of refuge, the one who committed the accidental murder could live freely – without concern of revenge.
Most of accumulate some baggage as we go through life.
Most of that baggage come when we make a poor decision – whether on purpose or accidentally. Regardless of the intent, however, forgiveness is available to us for our wrong through the shed blood of Christ.
Do we, as Christians, do a good job of being cities of refuge?
As I consider this, I think about the young people and adults that I have had the opportunity to sit with and listen to their stories. I think about the various baggage that we carry around with us, and I wonder about how we can be better at being cities of refuge as the church.
I once overheard someone say, “I’m tired of all of this talk about grace in the church. What happened to owning up to our sins?”
When I hear that, my heart breaks!
Yes – we need to admit our sins, ask for forgiveness, and make changes in our lives. BUT – grace is important as well. So often, someone admits a sin from the past and becomes labeled with that sin.
You know what I am talking about!
What I have seen and heard is that admitting the sins from the near or far past is too hard because of this label. What will people think? How will this change my relationship with others at the church?
The cities of refuge were places where everyone knew what had been done in the past but where the “sinner” could go on with life.
A new life…
That is what church is meant to be. A place where we know that each of us comes with a past – some less colorful than others, perhaps – and where we all find new life in Christ. The church needs to have open arms to receive all with baggage so that all can leave their baggage at the foot of the cross and start again.