Today during my walk, I walked by this terrific shelter in the state park. As I walked past it I thought about how it looked like a fortress to me. I remember walking by this same shelter during the winter when I was at the lake and noticed how it seemed capable to withstand the strong winds coming off the frozen lake and most likely even the ice jams that may force their way up to its edge. These thoughts reminded me how the church can be a fortress. In fact, Martin Luther even wrote a song about God being our fortress, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
The value of a fortress is that it provides protection and stability for us. Within the walls of the fortress we can experience security. We can have a sense that even our enemy is the elements of weather or a military army, we can remain safe within the walls. This brings comfort to our lives. This is part of the reason that worship spaces have been called “sanctuaries” for many years.
However, we cannot remain within the fortress all of the time. We must go out into the world and interact with the world. We were never intended by our Creator to live in isolation. In fact, Jesus sends us out just as he did the Apostles when he gives the Great Commission… “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20a) The fortress of the church was not intended to be a place for us to hide out but a place for us to re-energize and be equipped to go back into the world.
There is value in the fortress but there is also great value in leaving the fortress. I think more churches should remember that and more Christians should live that.