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In the Storm

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Good morning and welcome to another week of church here at the Bridge. I am so glad that we can come together and worship together this morning. I have a question for you this morning.
What was the worst storm you have ever been in?
Think about that for a moment. I am willing to bet most of us can think of that storm or moment. I can think of mine. I was working at a summer camp on Table Rock lake in Southern Missouri. The camp had boats and we would take kids around the lake for water activities. I drove the boat for cliff jumping. We would take a group of 10 kids on a pontoon boat and drive them to a 30 foot cliff and they would be able to jump off into the lake.
One day while we were out i noticed in the distance a storm rolling in and i knew that we had to get back to the dock because these were some dark clouds. I got all the kids loaded up and we started heading back. The trip back was relatively simple because it wasn’t that far away. We only had to take one turn on the lake. The waters were a little rough as we started out but when we rounded the bend to get back to the camp dock i knew it was going to get interesting. The wind was rough and the water started to really move. We were driving the boat directly into the storm. The wind and rain was coming down right into my face and it was hard to see. The kids were all huddled under their towels trying to deal with rain that was coming at them quickly because i was trying to get back before it got even worse. That was probably the most difficult time i ever had driving a boat because it was moving with the waves form the storm and it was challenging.
When we got back to the dock i hadn’t thought about the fact that we would have to try to get into a narrow dock while dealing with the waves and trying to get the boat in while being pushed toward shore. With some help from fellow workers from the camp we were able to get the boat in and get the kids back safe and sound but it was an intense experience.
After the storm was over I couldn’t help but feel thankful for God keeping us safe in the storm. I look back in life and i think about that storm and i can’t help but think about another storm from the Bible that it reminded me of.
Luke 8:22–25 NIV
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. 24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

In the Storm

I can relate to the disciples. Jesus save me from this storm. Help me get through it. Please do something.
It is like that when we encounter storms. Yet, storms aren’t always physical. Sometimes the storm comes in other forms and we are faced with the challenges of the constant turmoil of the storm of life. This lead me to think of another passage that I wanted to take a closer look at this morning.
Ephesians 4:13–16 NIV
13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Behind the Text

We pick up this passage in Ephesians and we see one of the great hopes of Paul. Paul is pretty consistent across his epistles with this idea. The unification of the body of believers. I think Paul realized pretty early on that there are a lot of challenges to building the church. One of the biggest is that people think differently depending on where they are from, who they are, their experience, and many other things. This leads to different approaches to faith and how it is done. However, this didn’t stop Paul from trying to push us to a state of pursuing the maturity and unity of the Body of Believers.
It is at this point that we pick up this passage and see that Paul is speaking to this idea again. He wants the body to work together and his is showing us the how and the why. For Paul this growth is done through the guidance and leadership of several roles within the church but the pursuit is always to maturity. This brings us to an interesting point that i want to look at first from this passage.
Ephesians 4:14 NIV
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

No Longer Infants

I have a confession to make this morning. I love kids. They are amazing little creatures. Yet, there is one form that a child takes that scares me. It is the infant. Now its not because they are stinky or any of the other wonderful smells and things that come with infants. It is the fact that they are these tiny little beings that are very fragile. I am a big guy and they scare me because i worry i am going to break them. I had this fear for years. That is why i think God blessed me with a premature child. I got to have an extra fragile child. I did find out though that they are a lot tougher than they look though.
However, when we talk about infants we are dealing with more than just their physical attributes. We are talking about their attitudes and views of the world. When we start talking about this we know that children can be difficult. This is where i think most of us start thinking about children in a negative way. Children can be difficult and at times we want nothing more than for them to grow and become mature. This idea of maturity is actually a pretty common one in the NT. There are other passages like this one that call us to maturity to move beyond infancy to maturity. Yet, Jesus has a different view of children.
Matthew 18:1–6 NIV
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. 6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Matthew 19:14 NIV
14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 21:15–16 NIV
15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. 16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
That last one is one of my favorites. I just imagine Jesus looking at them with this look of exhaustion and saying “can’t you hear them?”
Overall though we see that Jesus values children. Yet, it feels like that the rest of the authors of the NT don’t value children the same way. I thought about this for a while and i realized that it isn’t that they don’t like children it something more than that. it is a matter of...

Childish vs Childlike

Jesus reference to children was often within the context of a child like attitude. Paul and the other writers often refer to infancy, or childhood from a perspecctive a childish behavior.
Let’s talk for a minute about both of those.
Childish-silly or immature
Childlike-the good qualities of a child, Innocence, faith, commitment
It makes you realize that when we start to compare these two things they are very different. Within the context of this passage Paul is after the removal of the childish qualities of the church not the childlike faith of the church.

Tossed by the Waves

The problem with childish behavior or immature faith though is that it is susceptible to the effects of the storm. Think of children in a storm. They are quick to fear and trying to find the easiest path to be removed form the storm though sometimes the right path is through the storm.
I think about my time on that boat. We could have just stayed on the boat and tried to ride out the storm or we could have gone other directions that might have taken us out of the storm or away form the storm but just because one way may look clear doesn’t mean it is. Sometimes the right path is in the storm and trusting. Yet, in the storm we must be careful not to just give into the waves but to push through and to grow in our faith and trust.
Thinking about the church and its history there are moments that the church shifts and moves in new directions. I think of moments like the reformation and other massive doctrinal shifts. These moments some change was necessary to move the church forward. Yet, some truths could not be forsaken or we would stop being the church. This is one area that we have an advantage over the early church.
The early church was faced with very little time and the difficulties of communication to establish sound doctrine. This made it susceptible to people who were out to find ways to gain from the immaturity of the church. Yet, as the church has developed we have grown in our understandings of the scriptures and formulated our doctrines and developed ways to allow for growth.
Yet we must be careful with this because if we don’t allow for new thought we will not continue to mature. Yet, new thought needs to be formed within a framework that is built upon the scriptures, tradition, and other factors.
One of the biggest challenges that we face to day is almost the reverse of what Paul experienced. Communication has reached the level that we are faced with new beliefs or views multiple times a day and we don’t always take the time to evaluate, process, and discern the spiritual implications that are happening. We are a society that moves too quickly at times.

Maturity the Right Way

The Beauty is that we are called still to mature. To remain faithful and have childlike features but to put away the childish things and be a better church.
Ephesians 4:15–16 NIV
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
This is to be done in christ. Christ is to be the central force that guides the growth of the body. We must not remain stagnate because the body will decay. Instead we must train our minds, hearts, and bodies to be such that we pursue him so that we may no longer be tossed about by the waves.
The goal of the church should be to grow up in every respect in faith, hope, love, unity, discernment, and holiness.
and the church grows as truth is lived out, believed in, and spoken.
We have a responsibility to this and this must all be done under Christ. We are to trust him and to look to him to guide us. Imagine for a moment if as a church (universal) we were able to start puting aside some of the petty differences and views and we started to pursue this unity. Wow how the world would change.

Church of the Future

This passage had me thinking long and hard about the church and our future. It is challenging at times to see the future of the church and the challenges we face in this world. It seems like each day we are faced with new challenges and difficulties that we don’t know what is coming next. At times it feels hopeless and i just want to be like the disciples and run to Jesus and beg him to calm the storm. Than i think about passages like this.
Ephesians 3:20 NIV
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
I realize that God is able. God is willing and God can do more than we could possible imagine. I pray that that we are able to as a church to grow and mature into Christians that have the faith of a child but the strength and wisdom of an experienced sailor in the face of the storm to know that we can see the way forward and that we can no longer be tossed by the waves but stand strong.
Let us pray.
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