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hope for churches in stress


For nine days in October, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta features mass ascensions of hot air balloons that fill the sky with the brilliant colors of hundreds of balloons. The balloons drift for miles across the Rio Grande Valley at the mercy of the wind.

The word “drift” means to be carried along by a current of air or water. It also means to move slowly, aimlessly, passively, or involuntarily. It is in this sense that Christians through the centuries have identified “drift” as one of seven deadly sins.

The Greek word they used was “acedia,” a lack of care. Acedia is spiritual inertia, listlessness in following Jesus, drifting without any internal impetus, carried along by the movement of others.

The remedy is to be purposeful in working for God. This truth is encapsulated in a single verse: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

All of us are called to work in the Church (Ephesians 4:7-16). For some, this is a compensated vocation (1 Corinthians 9:1-14). Most of us serve as volunteers. All can serve in vital roles to equip God's people for the work of ministry (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

Work in the church is to prepare God’s people to serve in the world. The same word that the New Testament uses for ministry in the church is used for every honest vocation and occupation (1 Corinthians 7:17). This means that we can approach our "secular" work, whatever it is, as an assignment (or calling) from God.

At times we may work under constraint. When Paul wrote to the Ephesians, he was in prison (Ephesians 4:1). He knew that God is able to impact the world through his servants despite servitude, incarceration, illness, or disability. Whatever our circumstances, we can still pursue the purposes of God (Ephesians 6:5-8).

We need not drift. We all have a role in building up the church. We can serve God’s redemptive purposes in the world. Even under constraint, we can pour out a costly love for Jesus, our Master.

Colds and other ailments are common in winter. To the extent we can, we take precautions against them. Even so, we usually manage to “catch” something. There are spiritual ailments to which we are susceptible any time of year. Whether we are afflicted by Affluenza, Drift, Grumps, Lite-headedness, or Sensualitis, God has provided a remedy for every spiritual malady.


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