Some years ago, right after moving to a new congregation several members invited us to spend a couple of days white water rafting on the Ocoee River. I was a little frightened. In the nights leading up to the trip I had a reoccurring nightmare of being thrown out of the raft because I had “stepped” on the wrong toes.
It really was an amazing experience. During each trip down the river I would loose myself in the beauty of God‘s creation. The fellowship was so meaningful that all of my fears disappeared. That turned out to be a blessing, because on the last day of the trip I fell overboard. The shock of falling into the ice cold mountain water took my breath. It only took a few dozen sharp rocks to knock me back to my senses, and cause me to wonder how I was going to get out in one piece. As I turned toward the raft there was the most beautiful sight…hands were outstretched everywhere to help me back into the safety of the raft.
That image will follow me for the rest of my life simply because it reminds me of the beauty of God‘s church. Life is full of rapids. Just when you think that you are safe, you fall overboard. How wonderful it is to know that you are not overboard alone. In fact, Jesus reminds us in Matthew 28:20 that he will be with us always. He is not only with us through the power of the Holy Spirit, but also through the lives of our fellow Christians that surround us. Ephesians 4:25 emphasizes that we are all one body. Hebrews 10:25 tells us that we should “encourage one another” in life and worship. This love and support should extend beyond denominations, race and gender. We are all part of the church GOD created.
We may not always agree with each other. There may be times when we don‘t even like each other, but we are always expected to love and offer support to one another. This new year, let us not forget that we are all working toward the same goal…God‘s kingdom on earth. One of the most beautiful sights in the world is to see Christians overlooking differences to help one another get back into the boat. After all…we are all in the same boat together.