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Church News Volume 7, Issue 7 (August 2006)

Dear friends,

The Ark and the Titanic: two boats with very different stories. One survived a world-wide flood, the other sank in a calm sea on its maiden voyage, having struck an iceberg; one's cargo was an extended family and a floating zoo, the other's many passengers included some of the world's wealthiest.

The humble Ark was built by Noah in response to Godi's instructions; the opulent Titanic, the biggest ship ever made, was constructed for the glory of humankind and the White Star Line shipping company, whose Vice-President boasted that this ship is unsinkable.

Confidence in human capability led to complacency. There were over a thousand tons of caviar on board, but few binoculars for the lookouts: as the ship travelled proudly at nearly full speed of 25 miles per hour through that fateful Atlantic night, it was impossible for the naked eye to look ahead into the freezing wind. Meanwhile the Captain enjoyed a leisurely dinner, with iceberg warnings passed on to him that very evening, tucked away in his pocket till later.

The Ark's Captain, Noah was a righteous man, obedient to God in both building and boarding his boat. The Titanic looked the sturdier option for the ocean, but it set sail towards death under mans direction; the Ark headed for life under God's protection.

In the Gospels Jesus stresses that he needs to be at the helm of our lives if we are to enjoy an enduring destiny in God's presence. Our destiny, Jesus says, does not arise from powerful deeds done in God's name, but in acts of obedience to the Son's call. We are not measured by the impressiveness of our activity for the kingdom, but on whether we are getting to know, and allowing ourselves to be known by, the king.

Jesus warns us not to be "cowboy builders" in the kingdom. We need to base our outer lives on an inner relationship with him. This means following what he has called us to do, and listening for his guidance, rather than relying on our own ideas and agenda, even if we find we are doing things differently as a result. What counts is our relationship with Jesus. It is not sufficient to say, I dont know the Lord, I just work for him, for such work will not have eternal worth in the Kingdom of heaven.

What we are like under the pressure of life's storms will reveal the degree to which we have invested our stability and security in Christ, rather than in what we do in his name. Do we dare to let God really be in charge, or do we prefer to call the shots, even when it comes to doing his work? The most impressive structure will fail if the foundations are not strong.

It's sometimes said that Christians are like tea-bags: it's when they're put into hot water that their real flavour emerges. Can other's taste the fragrance of Christ in us when the heat is on?

Revd Ian M. Finn

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Last Modified Sunday 04 March 2018