Life, the Universe, and Everything, from the Outside In

The Long View

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When I was a kid, my parents had a little pontoon houseboat, which I would take a turn steering from time to time, and later a time or two steering a river tug with a barge. Now, if you’re steering a fast boat it’s simple enough to head for a spot and throttle on, but on something bigger it might be a few minutes before a turn of the wheel has any effect on your course. The difference is that the helmsman on the bigger vessels needs to have an eye on his trail as well as his heading. In seeing the beginning point and the trail left from the propellers abaft as well as the point toward which she’s headed the helmsman can have a better understanding of how straight his course has been- whether he’s been over- or under-steering, tending left or right, etc., and how to stay better on course.

Over the years, I’ve been in a number of different churches, and responded to a number of different philosophies. With all the variations one to another the focus always seemed to be on the “right now.” Whatever the leaders’ impressions were about “What God is doing,” or “What we need,” right now was the key question. Of course, this leaves room for all kinds of variations. If we take a close look at Holy Scripture we find that God does not change, cannot lie, and will not turn away from His plan; so unless He went on vacation just after Pentecost and just now remembered He has a Church on this planet (Nope- scratch that: Forgetting is not an option either!) His Spirit has been confirming His work, and word, to pastors and teachers over the last 1970-odd years.

Hebrews 12 tells us that all Believers, from the beginning to the end, are in fellowship one with another. When we gather for worship we may only see the people in that room, but our prayers and singing are part of a harmony that stretches around the world, through time, and includes saints in Heaven as well as on earth. One of the practical aspects to this is that, since God doesn’t change, and we can tell with little trouble that human nature really doesn’t either, we can expect that the Apostles and their disciples, etc., had to ask God’s guidance on a lot of the same issues we face today. We have the Holy Spirit as our Teacher, and so did the Church before us. It is one thing to be thinking on Holy Scripture and the Spirit give us an insight, or an answer to some difficulty, and it is good to have that insight confirmed through a friend, but it is another thing altogether to see the exact same message in the writings of someone from 200, 900, or 1,900 years ago. On the other hand, sometimes the Lord uses some of those older scholars as a hint for us to re-think our own assumptions in our own place and time. In time, we learn to correct our steering, avoid some snags, and make it to Harbor for the great Celebration. I can almost imagine some of the conversations, with, say, Gregory or Macarius asking a “modern” Christian whether one of their letters had helped him or her at such a time, or a Christian from the year 2050 thanking John Wesley for helping them out of their own religious fog with his sermons. We’re all in this together, the Lord is our Navigator, and the fact that so many scholars from so many eras have stayed His course through all the shoals and cross-currents of their days is a testimony for us all to learn from.


Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 23 February, 2008 at 17:45

2 Responses

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  1. We’re all in this together, the Lord is our Navigator, and the fact that so many scholars from so many eras have stayed His course through all the shoals and cross-currents of their days is a testimony for us all to learn from.

    We can stay on course without the need for blind faith as Christianity, when properly presented is Biblically, theologically and philosophically sound. You passed me trafficjam…congrats.;)


    Monday, 25 February, 2008 at 2:42

  2. Really true, Russ! “Blind faith” is generally a leap into the darkness: not the way of Christ, who “lighteneth every man who cometh into the world!”


    Monday, 25 February, 2008 at 8:51

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