A few times in my life I have gone white water rafting on the Arkansas River in central Colorado. I have loved it each time. For someone who spends most of my life in fairly controlled environments (read: inside), these adventures make me feel like Lewis and Clark … even if it is only for a couple of hours on a Wednesday.
Each time I’ve gone, I have been required to attend a safety meeting before I am allowed on the river. In this meeting, they discuss how to save yourself from drowning, how to survive if pinned under a raft or stuck in beaver dam, etc. The first time I attended one of these sessions I was wide-eyed and glued to everything they said. I aced the quiz at the end of the presentation and laced my life jacket on extra tight before stepping onto the boat.
But after that first time down the river, I did not take the safety presentation as seriously. After all, the first time down I had not fallen in the water … in fact no one in our pod did. I also discovered that piloting each combination raft was an expert guide that knew just what to do. So, not only was I not hurt in my previous journey, but I knew there was someone else who would get me out of trouble in case we ended up in any real danger. These experiences lulled me into a state of complacency not warranted in the face of something as dangerous as class 3 and 4 rapids.
Though I still have yet to have a problem on the river, if I continue to go, I will eventually float into some trouble — the river is that powerful … so I would be well advised to not ignore the warnings of my instructors.
I was thinking of this experience today as I study for Sunday’s message on Philippians 1:27-30. These 4 short verses will serve as the anchor for our final installment in the “Connect 4 the Gospel” series. So far we have seen that as a church we connect 4 the Gospel by praying for each other, and rejoicing together in the advancement of the Gospel. This week, we will see that we are connect 4 the Gospel by standing firm and linking arms, instead of conceding truth to the pressures of this world. Though many would want to persecute the church of Jesus Christ, we are called to not allow that pressure to intimidate us from fidelity in our faith.
As I preach this message I know that I am speaking to a group of people who have “been down the river” a few times and not “fallen out.” Many of us have followed Christ for years and years and years without facing a lot of serious opposition. Further, when opposition was faced, typically it was endured by someone in “another boat” on the other side of the ocean, or maybe just the leader of our “boat” – a pastor or ministry leader in a local church. These blessed journeys may cause us to think that current of this world is not as destructive as warning passages like Philippians 1:27-30 might indicate. But here is the deal … if we live long enough, we will all be whipped about by the class 3 and 4 opposition to Christ that is no doubt flowing in our world. We would do well to heed the words of this passages warning.
Join us this Sunday at Wildwood at 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 (indoors with children’s ministry, student ministry, college and adult classes running), at 8AM (outdoor chapel service) or at 10:15 (online stream at wildwoodchurch.org/live ) as we wrap this series up and see how we can connect 4 the Gospel by standing firm together.