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Wednesday
Mar162016

Turbulence

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

Those who fly the not-so-friendly skies encounter something called turbulence.  The plane shakes, rattles and doesn’t actually roll, although, occasionally, it drops a few hundred feet.  And those of us aboard the Ship of Zion, the church, are feeling more and more turbulence the closer we get to our destination.  Sometimes, we get this ominous sense that we’re not going to make it, that the church that Jesus built is going to crash and all will be lost.  We should take a lesson, however, from the pilots who steer the machine loaded with people through the scary air.  “All is good,” they say.  The following excerpt from a seasoned pilot explains their unruffled state of mind.

“Turbulence: spiller of coffee, jostler of luggage, filler of barf bags, rattler of nerves. But is it a crasher of planes? Judging by the reactions of many airline passengers, one would assume so; turbulence is far and away the number one concern of anxious passengers. Intuitively, this makes sense. Everybody who steps on a plane is uneasy on some level, and there’s no more poignant reminder of flying’s innate precariousness than a good walloping at 37,000 feet. It’s easy to picture the airplane as a helpless dinghy in a stormy sea. Boats are occasionally swamped, capsized, or dashed into reefs by swells, so the same must hold true for airplanes. Everything about it seems dangerous.  Except that, in all but the rarest circumstances, it’s not. For all intents and purposes, a plane cannot be flipped upside-down, thrown into a tailspin, or otherwise flung from the sky by even the mightiest gust or air pocket. Conditions might be annoying and uncomfortable, but the plane is not going to crash.”  (www.askthepilot.com

We know turbulence.  It pummels the church from every angle.  From the political angle, it seems as though each presidential election cycle gets nastier than the last one.  On the world scene, saber rattling is evolving into nuclear bomb testing and missile launching.  Rogue nations like North Korea and Iran, plus the mounting threat from ISIS, throw fear into all of us.  Reports of genocide against Christians tell us that we are entering into an era not unlike that of the early church.  Add to that the disappointing numbers of defectors to the cosmos, falling prey to the overtures of Satan and returning to the “barf bag” of this worldly system, one might be tempted to say that we are indeed spiraling into a sickening tailspin.  But, if you spend a little time talking to the Pilot, you will soon settle back into your seat, fasten your seatbelt, hang on to your coffee and know that we’re going to make it!

First, you can’t stop the turbulence.  The only surefire way to avoid turbulence is to never leave the ground.  (That’s exactly why some people never fly.)  But that’s not an option for the church.  If we fly, we’re going to get buffeted.  Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33) Things will always get shaken up—even those things you thought were set in stone.  Accidents, catastrophes, hurts, failures, disappointments and problems make up the skyscape through which we navigate.  Expect it, inspect it if you must, and then rise above it!

Second, the church is destined to succeed.  It is no mistake that we are told “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27) That verse is not merely a motivational slogan, intended to prop us up and keep us going.  It is a statement of fact.  Jesus said He would go to prepare a place for us.  We need to read the book of Revelation as though it were a tangible, present-day reality.  Kick the “tentative” out of your faith and replace it with “absolute!”

Third, the church is built to “take it.”  Engineers who build planes choose the strongest metals, incorporate the best forms of reinforcement and support structures, and design the most efficient aerodynamic functions to absorb turbulence and stay intact.  Spiritually, this give new meaning to the well-rehearsed scripture “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Depending on the intensity of the storm, you might hear some creaking and groaning.  People around you might be screaming.  You might get a little queasy from time to time.  But do not be alarmed.  The ship will sail on!  From a theological point of view, this is precisely why Jesus insisted that the disciples left Bethany with the instructions to “tarry in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.”  God built the baptism of the Holy Spirit into the church to ensure our survival.

Last, the worst thing turbulence can do is distract us from achieving our purpose.  If we become so concerned about the threats against the church that we pour all of our energy into comforting one another and keeping ourselves calm, we neglect the mission of the church in the world.  The Apostle Paul said, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18) As long as we stay in the plane, we are secure.  We have a world to reach, we have the role of the ambassador to fulfill, we have a God-ordained revival to implement.  It’s in our hands.  Let us not abandon our mission out of fear for our safety.

“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:17-18)  

 

 

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