Storms don’t exist only in the physical realm; they are also a spiritual reality. The Church is like a ship. As we take on passengers who were adrift, lost and perishing in their sin, the enemy of our souls will do his best to stir up “storms,” anything to impede our progress and keep us from our primary mission. If possible, he’d love to sink the ship!
Indeed, the apostle Paul compared false teachings to dangerous high winds. In Ephesians 4:14, he warns against being “blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (NIV). But how can this be avoided? Verse 13 gives the answer. We must be both unified and mature, a result of the “knowledge of the Son of God.”
Sadly, knowledge of the basics of true Christian faith is often lacking, making the unsuspecting vulnerable to false teaching. When visiting recently with one of our Nazarene church leaders in an African country, I asked: “What is the greatest challenge our church faces in your country?” It only took a few seconds of reflection before he replied: “The prosperity message.” He was concerned that this false idea was destroying churches, disillusioning people by promising them great riches. When the promised return never comes, they tend not to blame the charlatan who pockets their money but the God who they think let them down. They become inoculated to the genuine Gospel, a version of the old proverb: “Once burned, twice shy.” The “high wind” of false teaching can carry away those who are not properly anchored in sound doctrine.