I just received a distressing call from a pastor friend of mine in another part of the country. A member of the church there who “has it all” — health, money, privilege, and opportunity — has decided to trade in his believing wife for an illicit affair. Now there is the pain and reality of church discipline. Another severed family, as well as a wounded church family, lie in the wake of this man’s series of devastatingly selfish choices.
It doesn’t take long for any of us to shipwreck our lives, as well as the lives of those closest to us. Not long at all.
Are you living wisely today?
The writer to the Hebrews sounded the warning like this (2:1): “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
The Greek “drift away” carries with it the idea of slipping — like a ring slipping off your finger in soapy water. Implicit is the notion of going in the wrong direction.
The Greek “pay much closer attention” is a nautical term, and communicates a sea captain’s obligation to wisely and skillfully navigate a ship to safety. If you think about a “ship” in the days when the New Testament was written, you’re not imagining a ski boat that can be easily “shifted into reverse” when the water gets too shallow — but a vessel that must be guided so carefully that it is always steered clear of any place that might mean disaster.
Sin is like the iceberg that sank the Titanic. What lies above the surface may appear harmless and in fact beautiful, but what lies beneath can tear out your guts.
In thinking through my seafaring theme, I’m propelled toward the more recent Costa Concordia disaster. Another deadly voyage that nobody thought could happen.
It took expert teams almost two years, and millions of dollars, to hoist that Italian cruiseliner back to its upright position — though it hadn’t even gone all the way under. My point is that it’s much easier to avoid a shipwreck than to fix one. “Minor shipwreck” makes about as much sense as “barely pregnant.”
You and I must keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ. The same gospel that saves also sanctifies. When you and I are marveling over the finished work of Christ for us, that’s the best posture for protection against the worst decisions we could ever make. Only Christ can “deliver us from evil.”
And keeping our eyes on Jesus is proof positive of His persevering grace in us. All the truly redeemed will sail safely home.