In my family of origin, I am the only girl sandwiched between two boys. Consequently I spent my growing up years doing typical boy things instead of playing dolls and house. My older brother, two years my senior, is an engineer and avid sailor, and as a younger sibling, I spent many hours tagging along as he built tree houses, forts, and go-carts. In his early teens, he became interested in sailing and built his own wet-sail sailboat out of wood and fiberglass in our garage. Today he owns a marina in Muskegon and is rebuilding a 29-foot J-class sailboat.
Although I haven’t taken a solo sail in a long time, I learned some of the principles of sailing through observing my brother and through my own trial and error
I learned the following things the hard way:
First, before you raise the sail, the centerboard or keel must be lowered or else your craft will get blown sideways across the lake, the rudder will be ineffective, and you will probably capsize. Second, it is possible to sail against the wind if you learn the correct wind-to-sail angle to “tack”, or zigzag into the wind, giving a forward direction overall. There are some rules of physics involved in this, which I am hopeless to understand, but my brother understands them, and I followed his example. Third, it is a good idea to have a visual reference point on land by which to navigate if you don’t have GPS on board or know how to use other navigational tools. Lastly, the elements are either your friend or foe and ignoring them can end badly. Don’t take your boat out in a high sea or gale warning unless you really know what you’re doing, and your vessel is equipped to handle the conditions.
There are so many parallels that can be taken from sailing into living life in Christ. We are bombarded daily with news and opinions driven by agendas that stand in opposition to a Biblical worldview. Without a centerboard and rudder working together, a sailboat is impossible to control. Without the truth of God’s inspired, infallible Word, and the leading of the Holy Spirit, we become lost in the confusion of a myriad of voices, distracted by this crisis and that cause, unsure how to navigate our culture.
Jesus told us in John 18:18-19 “if the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” That statement is clear that we are sailing against the wind of our culture, and we need truth to navigate. Our visual reference point is the person of Jesus and the goal of a Christian is to sanctify (which means to be set apart and made useful) by denying ourselves, being obedient to the Word and leading of the Holy Spirit. In the world of counterfeiting, those whose job is to identify counterfeit currency are trained in knowing the true item so well, any anomaly is quickly spotted. Likewise, we need to be so trained in the truth of God’s Word, that we will know when we are presented with what is false.
George Barna has published the results of a worldview study that found only 6% of Americans who profess to be Christians hold a Biblical worldview. Considering this, our current study of the book of Colossians is very timely. Paul wrote to the church in Colosse to correct errors brought in by the Gnostics, Judaism, and Antinomianism. It is interesting to me to see how the root of these philosophies is still informing thought today. The Gnostics prided themselves in having hidden knowledge that was superior to the gospel, and that happiness was unattainable unless one was initiated into the deepest secrets the Gnostics held. These ideas have reappeared in Christian Science, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Unitarian church to name a few. Antinomianism taught that under grace, a person did not need to practice self-control but could give in to whatever passions and desires seemed good, making the self the true god. Progressive Christianity and Secular Humanism have embraced this thought. Old Testament Judaism was originally a God-given revelation but had degenerated into a system of ceremonies and observances to gain righteousness and favor with God. There are many ideologies today operating under this view. Truly there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9).
As followers of Christ, we are exhorted to diligently seek Him (Is 55:6), and to be equipped and built up so we may be mature, being measured by the fullness of Christ. Eph. 4:14-15 tells us why: “So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”