Timelines, Hemlines and Lifelines – Drifting

In the early twentieth century, there were many shipwrecks along the New England coast. Many people drowned along that rugged coastline when ships went aground and broke up. One of the local villages decided to help remedy the problem, so they formed a local life saving station. They got volunteers; they built a small shack and the volunteers were trained in life saving skills. Some of the volunteers had their skills tested when a ship wrecked on the sharp rocks of the dangerous point. The call went out; the volunteers did their work and many people who otherwise would have drowned and perished were saved.

The survivors were warmed in the small rescue station. Their wounds were dressed. They were clothed by the donations from the volunteers. They were very grateful for the selfless service of these volunteers in this small village and life saving station. It wasn’t long before other villages along the coast line saw what lives could be saved and what rewards could be had from such a project, so they too founded small life saving stations along the dangerous main New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts coast line. And they too were able to rescue people who would have otherwise drowned when ships went aground into shore and began to break up at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the early twentieth century.
After several rescues and successes donations poured in to many of these rescue stations and they decided to expand their rescue stations into larger facilities and they put beds in them. They even got to the point where they put tables and couches and chairs and heating stoves and other devices. They cut down a lot of the trees to improve the view of the ocean, while the volunteers waited for ships to go aground. It wasn’t long before many of them grew into country clubs. They built bigger and better rescue stations. They added tennis courts. Some golf courses. And it’s a historical fact that  not a few of them became great country clubs for which soon they hired people to rescue those who floundered on the shores and they charged great membership fees for their members to become members of these exclusive country clubs.
People still drown along those shores. The coastline of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts is dotted with country clubs now ; some of whom grew out of these early rescue stations. They soon lost their original purpose. Have we forgotten our original mission and calling like those volunteers along the New England coast?

I’ve recently reread Arnold Cook’s intriguing book, “Historical Drift”.

I suggest reading it for yourself, as it is absolutely packed with insight that causes one to think about change over time, especially in the context of the call that we have to proclaim the gift of God’s grace to a world in desperate need of rescue.

Here are some random thoughts.

Some people say well the way to attract people to your church is to lower the standard, to make it very warm and inviting, to keep the standards low and open the doors wide. History tells us something else. History tells us that those organizations that do best, particularly religious organizations are those that have higher and stricter standards. Christ, required his disciples to give up even their own lives to follow him – a pretty high standard. What more can you give? All of his disciples lost their lives to martyrdom except one. They paid the ultimate price.

 True Christianity is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for those who are unwilling to sacrifice. It’s not for those who are willing to drum or follow the drum of kind of a lackadaisical half-hearted effort. Christ begins by holding the standard very high. I’d like to share with you a few more thoughts from the book ‘Historical Drift.’ He says on page 102…
“In Christian denominations nominality begins to emerge in the second generation and becomes endemic by the fourth generation. By this time, the nominal person will either have rejected all claims to membership or will have been reactivated and revitalized. The life span of an organization is between sixty and eighty years by which time it will have reached the point of no return unless intervention strategies are in place.”

 He lists these items which he found in his studies caused a loss of commitment and this historical drift among members of these various organizations, religious and secular, but primarily religious he goes through these points. I’ll share them with  you.
1. Inconsistent attendance
2. Token giving, but not tithing
3. No apparent desire for serious study of God’s word
4. No interest in prayer
5. No involvement in the outreach of the church
6. No apparent interest in becoming Godly
Psalm 139:23
“Search me, O God, and know my heart…”

What’s in our heart? Do we still remember why we were called? Do we still remember our purpose in life? Do we still remember that our life should reflect the life of Christ living in us? Or have we too like so many drifted?
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