as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.
We thought about this image of shipwreck in our reading on Monday, but not all shipwrecks are a total disaster! Paul survived several in the course of his travels. As today’s reading reminds us, the Gospel-writer Mark made a bit of a hash of his early Christian experience in working with Paul. It appears he gave up the struggle of working with Paul on a missionary journey and simply packed his bags and went home. That did not endear him to Paul, and so he wouldn’t countenance taking Mark with him on the next journey. But this was not a total wreck – we read in Colossians 4 of Paul commending Mark while he was in prison. ‘Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. ‘
But for sure, some folk do seem to make a total and permanent shipwreck of their faith. It has been observed that the largest Christian Denomination is ‘Those who used to belong to Church’. – and you yourself are likely to know of some folk who used to belong to Church (and I am not just talking about Upper Beeding) but are no longer associated with any Christian fellowship. It would seem to us (and we might be proved wrong in years to come) that they have abandoned a life of following Jesus. We go on praying for them, longing for them to re-connect with other believers. More than that however, we long for them to re-connect with Jesus. Even if they are just clinging on by their fingernails pray that they will ‘Cling on’ and rediscover what following Jesus means for them.
And if you, reading this today, are one of those who are hanging on to faith with the barest of handholds, talk to a friend – or someone – about your honest doubts and fears. The fact that you are reading this suggests you have not made a total shipwreck – cling on to that plank of hope, God still loves you!