July/August Youth Pastor’s Column

Washed Away With The Current

Summer in Australia meant going to the beach! On one family vacation while we were enjoying the wonderful beaches, I took the family’s blow-up boat/raft out into the water and lay down to enjoy the gentle movement of the waves. I didn’t think my eyes were closed for very long but when I opened them and sat up I was startled to find that the gentle “motion of the ocean” had carried me quite some ways from the shore. As I looked in the distance I could see my concerned family waving at me to come back in. Alarmed by the situation, I knew I could swim back, but to do so would mean abandoning the boat/raft I was on. That was an easy choice! I said “good-bye” to the boat, jumped into the ocean, and started fighting against the current. As I slowly swam I saw that the boat continued to be pushed further out to sea. Exhausted, but thankful, I made it safely to the beach and my family. Not everyone was happy to see me, however. My older brother was quite concerned about the blow-up boat and he let me know his displeasure with my abandoning it. What happened next was deliciously delightful. After he finished verbally “ripping” me to shreds, my brother noticed a power boat coming to shore towing the boat I had abandoned. He raced off to collect it not realizing the captain thought he was me! The captain sternly yelled at my brother for being so risky and foolish in being blown out that far. This still amuses me to think about, for in my mind I was doubly blessed that day: not only did I get out of a spot of trouble, but I also got my brother into a spot of trouble. HA! Greater than that though, I did learn a powerful lesson that day. I realized all it takes to be washed away by the current is to do absolutely nothing at all.

The author of Hebrews blows the lifeguard’s whistle with this warning, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” [Hebrews 2:1] By default, many in our day drift away in what is “current.” It happens by doing nothing at all, or by not thinking much at all, or worse still by not believing in much at all. Sadly in the West many Christians are indistinguishable from other people in the culture, and many go with the times and give in to popular or progressive opinion. The old saying “If you don’t stand for something then you will fall for anything” seems to be accurate as many people want to float with the flow, not fight against the current.

Where are the people who will take a stand and have a firm footing against the tide of our current day? Who will make a difference by being different? Who will be counter-cultural in a day where many would rather be “current” than “counter”? Some Christians have their eyes closed as they float along with the issues of homosexuality, gender roles, racism, abortion, marriage, justice, while all the time not realizing that by doing nothing they get lulled away in the current milieu. Some will sit up one day and say, “how did I end up here for I’m in over my head”. They will wonder about the distant shore while they sink in the soup of cultural sin.

David Platt writes, “But what if Christ commands us to make these issues our concern? And what if Christ’s call in our lives is not to comfort in our culture? What if Christ in us actually compels us to counter our culture? Not to quietly sit and watch evolving cultural trends and not to subtly shift our views amid changing cultural tides, but to courageously share and show our convictions through what we say and how we live, even (or especially) when these convictions contradict the popular positions of our day. And to do all of this not with conceited minds or calloused hearts, but with the humble compassion of Christ on constant display in everything we say and do.” Maybe the impact of your life will be made through deciding to stand for Christ and against the force of the current, and by doing so you are being different (which may well be the difference that’s needed).

St. Peter tells the Church that we are to be different because we are different. He admonishes by calling us “… a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” [1 Peter 2:9–12] It is important to realize the Church is always to be counter-cultural, we are to live differently because God’s mercy has made us different.

Another Peter making a difference is Dr. Peter Jensen. He recently made comments at the Global Anglican Future Conference where he encouraged Christians to take their stand on the Word of God. This was in the wake of the Scottish Episcopal Church chosing to omit the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman from its canons, thus accepting gay marriage. Jensen said, “The ancient church provided the model for difficult times. The ancient world was won by those who preached and lived the biblical gospel with passion. It was the difference which made a difference; the difference with real content. It was the message that Jesus Christ is Lord and that he rules through the Scriptures, the word of God. The ancient Christians out-lived, out-thought, and out-loved their contemporaries. They did not do this by doubting the faith or changing it to suit the times. They did it by confessing the truth, even to death.” May God be gracious to us that we also would be like the ancient Church and stand for God’s truth. Please be a Christian that swims against the current for the sake of your own life and the lives of those you will influence. Be the difference that will make a difference!

In Christ,

Pastor Andrew Edmonds