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  • Pastor Jim Gronbeck

“The Prevailing Winds”

Jesus tells us that the wind blows where it chooses, and we don’t necessarily know where it comes from or where it goes. We see the effects of the wind: the trees, grass, flags, etc blowing in a certain direction. We see damage from wind and storms, and we can deduce how the wind was blowing.

There are what is called, “The Prevailing Winds,” which blow predominately from one direction. They are more predictable and are useful to forecasters, and others who rely on the weather. This past week we were greatly influenced by the prevailing winds. The wind had been blowing from the south which brought us hot, humid weather. Normally, when the wind changes to the more normal Northwest wind, we get cooler temps with less humidity. Last week, the cooler temps also brought the heavy smoke from the Northern Wildfires.

And then there is the old adage, “the winds of change, they are a-blowing.” This describes a certain feeling, or impression that we might have that certain things, presumably influenced by the prevailing winds, might be changing. It could involve beliefs, ideas, insights, or patterns of behavior.

St. Paul, in the letter to the Ephesians, uses the wind analogy to talk about our faith. He cautions us against letting differing doctrines, ideas, and beliefs of society blow us off course with respect to our faith.

Chapter 4 starts out with a powerful reminder for those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. He says, lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called. In other words, be filled with the qualities of the Spirit such as humility, gentleness, patience, love, kindness, all done in the unity of the Spirit.

We are one body in Christ, we have been baptized into the family of God our Father who is over all things and all people. As God’s people, we have been chosen in our baptism and have been given gifts of the Holy Spirit to work for the growth of the Kingdom of God and to praise and honor God. Each of us have gifts to use to build up the Body of Christ, the Church, so that others will come to know Jesus as Savior. The goal that God has set for the world is that all people would come to know Jesus and have the full measure of His grace in their lives.

Paul is calling us in this passage to put aside those things that separate and divide us. We are to work together toward the common goal of full unity in Christ Jesus so that we might all know the salvation that Jesus has given us. He says, “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, but people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.” There are so many things that can divide us and there are so many things threatening to break us apart and fracture the people of God that we need to be cautious and work together for the good of all.

It can be easy to just follow the ‘winds of change’ that seem to be blowing ever stronger these days. We can easily get caught up in the latest cause or issue and go off without having taken time to learn whether it is from God or not. Paul is warning us of the craftiness and trickery that the devil and others can use to throw people off from following Christ and living as He would want for us.

Years ago, when cults were a big issue, groups like the “Moonies” who followed the teachings of Sun Yung Moon, a self-proclaimed prophet, were confusing people with doctrine and beliefs that sounded good, but were not Christian. Well-meaning folks got sucked-in to the cults because they sounded caring, helpful, and loving. In reality they played mind-games on people and were involved in some nefarious things.

Because they sounded good, said familiar things, or appeared to be up-standing, many cults took people away from faith in Christ. We are warned in the Bible against these things and encouraged to grow into a maturity of faith so that we aren’t just following whatever the ‘pied-piper’ who sounds appealing at the time is saying to us. We are called to read and study God’s Word so we know what we believe and can better understand what issues, hot-button items, or intriguing personalities are saying. Do they match-up to God’s Word?

Jesus affirms this by talking about the food that perishes vs the food that endures to eternal life. The crowds were following Jesus because, He said, they had just been fed in the miracle of the loaves and fishes where he fed 5,000. He went on to say that they were not following because they were looking for a savior, but because they had their stomachs filled. Jesus was very popular because of the miracles he was doing, and so the crowds were following not out of faith, but rather they were hoping to get in on another feeding or miracle.

Our goal here at Zion is to work together on things that are common to our faith and unite us as a community of faith. We prioritize things that bring us together in faith to work for the common goal of living and loving one another as we learn from Jesus and the Holy Spirit by studying the Bible. We will not get anywhere as a society or a church if we concentrate on what separates, divides, or reminds us of our differences. When we work with the things that unite us in a common cause of learning, growing in faith, or serving others as the hands and feet of Christ, we grow together in the Spirit. Our common faith unites us as we work on our mission goals such as the Food Shelves, Mission Jamaica, Camp Knutson and LSS, Helping Hands, Bible Study, Women’s Groups such as WELCA, the Soup Ministry, Circle Bible Studies, and our fellowship activities that help others. Concentrating on our common goals of showing Christ’s love and learning more about our faith brings us together around the Lord.

So as Paul says, ‘Let us no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow up in every way into Him who is the head, Christ Jesus.’ Let us stay with the ‘prevailing winds’ of the Bible and know where we are headed.

AMEN

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