|You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to His people. Praise be to God! — Psalm 68:35 (NIV)
Finding refuge is not a concept most of us relate to in the physical sense. We have our comfortable homes and vehicles and the freedom to come and go without restraint.
The physical freedom we experience can sometimes hide the emotional need for refuge, until someone or something brings it all to the surface and we can’t ignore the reality of our need. It is at this very point in time that our concept of God comes clearly into focus.
If we’re not careful we can spend all our lives around the circumference of the circle of knowing God and never actually get to the center of it. It’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics of living a Christian lifestyle and not truly understand what it means to live a Christian life.
Webster defines sanctuary as “sacred, a holy place, as a building set aside for worship, a place of refuge or protection.” In the New Testament we are told that our bodies are the temples of God. We are to live as a sanctuary of His presence.
Many Christians make the mistake of thinking that just because they are believers in Christ, just because they read the Bible, just because they have the Holy Spirit living in them, they should be immune from the trials and pressures of this earthly life. Doctors’ and counselors’ offices are filled with sincere Christians who find it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain peace and perspective in a stress-filled world.
Oftentimes for Christians our practice comes first, and our theology follows behind it. We decide what we’re going to do, and then we try to find a theology that makes us comfortable in doing it. But God is not affected by what we believe about Him. Our opinions of Him don’t change who He is. If we don’t know who He is, we may end up creating a God in our minds who meets our fancies or letting other people create God for us. We need to find God in His Word and through His Son, Jesus Christ. We need to know the God who is our refuge.
When Jesus was ready to go back to heaven, He gave one assignment to the apostles. He said, “Therefore, go make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
Making disciples is one thing, but being a disciple is quite another without the next words He spoke: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (v. 20).
God is with us! We celebrate that truth when we call Him “Immanuel.” It means “God with us.” Not God somewhere beyond the stars, but God here with us, encouraging us, ministering to us, helping us.
In times when we’re tempted, we understand that He is here, and it brings us up short in our conduct. And in times when we have difficulties in life, we know that we don’t go through them by ourselves. His consistent message through the whole Bible is that He will be with us. Because God is with us, we are His sanctuary and He is our Refuge.
Read more from Dr. David Jeremiah in Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God.
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Your turn: We would love to hear from you! What does being a disciple mean to you? Do you remember a time when you experienced “Immanuel, God with us” in sharing Christ with others? Please leave your comments on our blog.