I was sitting in doors watching a fishing boat make its way out of the Camel estuary and into the north Cornwall (Atlantic) sea recently. It made me feel slightly queasy just observing it from some half mile away. My memories of mackerel fishing trips in lesser seas than this added to my relief that I was on dry land at that moment.
For people whose livelihood is fishing, and who for most days of the year risk being toppled overboard, there must be a technique to keeping stable. I would like to discuss the equivalent for those of us who might be toppled overboard spiritually if we are not careful.
The particular winds and waves that beset us at this time are many. We are at a vulnerable point in our church life, because recovery in terms of church activities is slower than anybody could have anticipated once the vaccines were rolled out. We so want to meet together, but we do not want to risk peoples’ health. So there is more waiting to be done, more testing of patience.
The bible speaks of the wind and waves of false teaching, tossing people to and fro. Jesus warned that the time shortly before his return would be a time when this ratchets up. So we need to attend to the word of God in scripture, as it has been handed down to us. ‘I handed on to you what I also received’ Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: 3. If you hear of people casting doubt on centuries of biblical teaching about key areas, such as sexual immorality, then go back to the bible and read the straightforward teaching that is given repeatedly, clearly and emphatically. The letter of Jude is a good one to trace the origin of ‘wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame’ (v.13). It comes out of v.4 “ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a licence for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord”
Our stability in these confusing times, does not come by imagining that the Spirit of God will reverse His word, or go back on his witness of millennia. It will be through revisiting that familiar ground, where good and evil has been made known to us for the sake of our safe passage through this life and into the next. Those who wander into myths, with stories and anecdotes feeding their beliefs, will find their ground dislodged from under them. They will become, as James writes in his letter, ‘like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind’.
I pray for us in these times of Transforming Church and Living in Love and Faith, that we may stand firm on God’s word while so much around us reels under deception.