Acts 20:28 (New International Version)
28Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
God is big on relationship--in fact everything he does is about relationship. Relationship and community--he knew these things wouldn't be easily learned, so he gave us the church to practise with. Oh--and families. Come to think about it, church is family--we're even related by blood--just not the blood that runs through our veins.
There are times when I would much rather treat practicing relationship as an optional extra--but it really is a non-negotiable. It can be discouraging and hard when we really get down to the nitty-gritty and try to work things through on an issue but God made sure we wouldn't have to figure it all out on our own. He left us lots of help in his guidebook.
Brenda sometimes gets stressed out when she's around me and my friends when we are having what she calls a "train-wreck." Apparently she can see one coming when we can't, and gives off all kinds of silent signals--"Stop! Don't go there! No..." but on we go--I and whichever friend I'm heading for the train-wreck with. We don't usually notice the help she's willing our way from the sidelines. But from each "train-wreck" a friendship rises stronger, more solid--deeper--because we love each other after all.
Not that train-wrecks are to be sought out or encouraged--but not avoided either. A perfect church isn't a lake with a calm smooth surface--it's one whose waters are choppy sometimes and feel scary--a little like Galilee, upon which the disciples sailed their boat into a squall. This was no small storm--the boat was being swamped, according to Luke--and they truly were in danger. You would think that Jesus would have been more understanding of their panic, but he seemed to be expecting faith--faith in him. He calmed the storm, but there must have been something lacking in the disciples' response for him to rebuke them as he did. What exactly did he expect of them if they had more faith? Could it have been to ride out the storm--trusting him? I believe that if they had, they would have reached the other side safely.
Luke 8:22-25 (New International Version)
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. 23As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
24The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25"Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."