…holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith. 1 Timothy 1:19
How did that happen? That was my reaction when I read about the 1,600 passenger cruise ship that was evacuated last Thursday after it ran aground on the Greek island of Santorini. Having been in that beautiful harbor and knowing there are days when a dozen luxury liners come into the port, I wondered how such a tragedy could happen.
It’s not like a ship-sinking reef can grow overnight. It’s not as if the waters haven’t been charted, or that the underwater rocks were moved in a maritime April Fool’s Day joke. Even if the anchorage had been totally unexplored, ships like the Greek liner, Sea Diamond, are equipped with sonar and a host of other electronic gear to prevent such catastrophes.
“How could that happen?” That may well have been Saint Paul’s question when he wrote about the shipwrecked faiths of Alexander and Hymenaeus (Hee' meh nee' uhs). These two men, once the apostle’s colleagues in the cause of Christ, had fallen away and were promoting false doctrine that left their followers ‘depraved in mind and deprived of the truth.’ (1 Timothy 6:5)
How could that happen? This is what pastors and parishes wonder when they see people who once believed in the blood-bought salvation of the Savior slowly slip away from their faith. We wonder what has happened when the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh shipwreck believers’ love for the Redeemer.
The answer is the same today as it was centuries ago when Paul wrote to his young friend Timothy. Peoples’ love for the Savior grows cold, and they find something that pushes Jesus to the side. Scripture is clear that nothing, except ourselves, can separate us from the love of God, which is ours in Christ Jesus.
This is precisely why we must, by the Holy Spirit’s power, keep our eyes focused on the Savior’s cross and His empty tomb. There we find the greatness of God’s grace and the depth of His love. Do you want to avoid a spiritual shipwreck? Saint Paul tells us how when he writes: “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.”(1 Timothy 6:11b-12a) May God grant it to be so.
THE PRAYER OF BLESSING: Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word; Curb those who fain by craft and sword, Would wrest the Kingdom from Thy Son, And set at naught all He hath done. Lord Jesus Christ, Thy power make known, For Thou art Lord of lords alone; Defend Thy Christendom that we May evermore sing praise to Thee. O Comforter of priceless worth. Send peace and unity on earth. Support us in our final strife, And lead us out of death to life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
(Hymn #261 taken from The Lutheran Hymnal. Copyright 1941, by Concordia Publishing House.)