Be a Bethany

On February 27, 2024

Eastern Europe is a land of castles. There are thousands of them spread out across the plains, rolling hills and mountains. Some are preserved and offer a journey back in time, others teeter on the edge of ruin. But each holds a collection of stories—stories of real people and the fluctuating history of kingdoms on this continent.

Špilberk Castle, Brno

But a castle, in its essence, is really just a refuge. It is a shelter from the enemies or extremities of the land. Especially in past centuries, one would travel long distances and often brave harsh elements just to reach the place of safety. The castle was a lifeline in an uncertain world.

In a recent meeting of songwriters in Poland my friend Luiza pointed out that even Jesus himself needed a place of refuge. For him, that place was Bethany. 

The home and the family of close friends who lived there (Lazarus, Martha and Mary) were a place of belonging and acceptance. Jesus was sheltered and understood there—and that kind of safety wasn’t very common in the tumultuous latter days of his ministry. 

How many times on my journeys have I stayed in the homes of friends (sometimes brand new friends) and been welcomed, fed and bedded down in Jesus’ name. A home away from home; a lifeline in a strange land.

”And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.“ Matthew 19:29 ESV

I own only one house, but I have access hundreds—even thousands—of homes and hearts from the spread-out body of Christ in the nations. This is often a wonder to me as I travel. 

But it doesn’t stop there. Luiza reminded us that we have the privilege to be a Bethany to someone in need every day. A safe place to the displaced, a refuge to a hurting heart, a friend to the lonely. If we open our hearts, we can be a castle, a lifeline, a Bethany.

The Lord is our strength and refuge. Often he becomes that for us through the kindness of others. And if we risk open generosity toward others who are in different kinds of need, we find ourselves living out in practice the very heart of Jesus, the very nature of God. 

Lord, make me a Bethany to those you bring to me.

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