February 19, 2014

Captain Phillips, Moses, Jesus and us – Chris Whitler

Recently, I saw the movie “Captain Phillips.” It is a hard movie to watch. Even though this story has been widely reported in the news and we all know the outcome, somehow, the film keeps you on the edge of your seat. You feel helpless as the events of the pirate attack on the Captain’s ship go from bad to worse.

Perhaps the most beautiful part of this film is the at the very end. The Captain is a hostage on board a hijacked lifeboat and the US Navy is desperately trying to free him. It has been such a terrible ordeal and the tensions mount. And then, the moment you have been waiting for comes, the moment of salvation. The enemy is destroyed and the Captain is safe. The emotion portrayed is stunning. After a long time in darkness, in one instant, the Captain is safe, saved and free.

And then the film goes on just a little bit longer. You watch as the medical team cares for this traumatized man. You see the fragile humanity in Captain Phillips who has been trying to be strong through the whole incident. You see that there is much work to do in the days to come. He is free, he is saved but he has a long way to go.

This reminds me of the story of Moses in the Bible and the people of Israel coming out of slavery. In a very dramatic series of events, God delivers his people. He brings them out of darkness and they begin walking toward a new, promised land. But they don’t get there right away. There is a wilderness to walk. There is testing and learning and growing to do. They are free, they are saved but there is a long way to go.

Much of our Christian approach to transformation in our communities has to do with the moment of salvation. An important moment for sure but we cannot stop there. Being freed from spiritual death by trusting in Christ’s work on the cross is beautiful and absolutely essential. But all of us have much recovery and healing that needs to come after we have been saved. And while there are times when some of these things come at the moment of salvation, there is a long process of healing and growing ahead. This is called discipleship.

Beyond evangelistic “follow up”, we need real relationships for support as we navigate the road to greater recovery. So, let’s tell our community about the hope we have in Jesus and as individuals and families meet Christ, let’s be ready to go for that long walk called discipleship together.

How? Just a few examples – Join or host a small group or Bible study. Read a discipleship book together with a few friends and discuss it. Offer friends a carpool to a local Celebrate Recovery meeting. Pray about who in your life needs some of your time and a deeper conversation. Ask often how you can pray for those around you and keep your commitment. Volunteer with a local organization in an area of your interest and invest in relationships rather than just “doing the work.”

John 3:16 is so important.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

And just as important is 1 John 3:16

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

Chris Whitler, AVC board and Director of Volunteer Development

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