Read: Ephesians 4:11-16
Reflect: Heather O’Brien’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing in the weeks since Hurricane Ian hit. The owner of a towing business, she already has responded to hundreds of situations where boats were sunk, displaced or need to be recovered because of the storm. “It just doesn’t stop,” she said. “The calls keep coming. Right now, it’s at five or six thousand in the queue and we expect a lot more. It’s going to take a long time to clean up.”
Do you think that Heaven views many of us believers that way, as lined up in a queue, broken by the storms of life and waiting to be taken to safer waters? The Apostle Paul describes the plight of immature believers “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” Believers who have lost their moorings.
Hurricane Ian blew all kinds of property into places it didn’t belong. Believers can find themselves blown about emotionally, mentally and spiritually into locations they didn’t plan and where they don’t belong. Their new address is in a wilderness of loneliness and sin. This is not God’s ideal for the Church. His design is for believers to be anchored into God’s Word and to be firmly embedded into healthy relationships with other believers. Believers may sit in a physical church building, however without healthy connections they are not in the Body of Christ as God designed it.
In my own walk with Christ, there are angry conversations I might not have had, impulsive decisions I might not have made, and there are seas of regret I wouldn’t have gotten lost in if a more mature Christian would have had the courage to patiently build a friendship and taken the time to lovingly speak Truth into me. Notice, I said “lovingly”. Pastor Shawn Thomas makes the great observation, “Most of us have a natural inclination either to just “love” someone and not want to tell them the hard truth — or just “blast” someone with the truth, without really caring for them from our heart. Both of these are wrong.”
The Apostle James describes the importance of this type of relational ministry: “My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.” (James 5:19-20)
Apply: Are you purposely building associations with other believers, both those who are more mature in Christ and those who need a leg up in their walk with Christ? We don’t have to end up like those boats and debris tossed by the wind and the sea, broken and useless. God’s goal is for us to help each other to become mature, speaking “the truth in love, and to be growing in every way more and more like Christ, Who is the head of his body, the Church.” It can save a heap of trouble if we intentionally follow God’s storm plan for when the hurricanes rage, the winds of false doctrine blow and people try to trick believers with lies so clever they sound like the truth. I know, it could have saved me.