Barnabas Network International | Online Resources for Churches

Seeing Things Differently Now


One of the great seasons in my life was when I learned to fly - i.e. in an aircraft! I discovered that there are many parables or illustrations of the Christian journey to be found in the world of flying. In another article on this theme I mentioned the "Attitude Indicator" which is an instrument that tells the pilot about the attitude of the aircraft in relation to the horizon.


There is another instrument which also caught my attention because it, too, reminded me of the importance of balance in the Christian life. This instrument is called the "Turn and Balance Indicator". As the name suggests, it becomes important when the pilot wants to turn the aircraft to a new heading.


A new pilot quickly learns that the art or skill of flying is to keep the aerodynamic forces in balance - especially when turning to a new course. To ignore these forces is to invite discomfort (at best) and disaster (at worst). However, done correctly, the pilot can manage the aerodynamics in such a way that they work together for the good of both pilot and passengers rather than opposing each other to the detriment of all.


As Christians, we are on a journey. Whether we think in terms of the individual believer or a local Church or a fellowship of Churches, the Lord of the Journey will sometimes call us to "turn to a new heading". It may be a radical change of direction. Then again, it may be just a small 'on course' correction. Whatever, it involves change. And change always involves pressures and tensions caused by spiritual 'aerodynamic forces'.


This is where the T & B Indicator becomes very important. As it is during the process of turning to the new direction that the aircraft is most likely to become unbalanced, so it is when Christians turn to a new direction. Local Churches are especially vulnerable during times of change. The change may involve a building programme or relocation to new premises. It may be a change in ministry emphasis and direction. It could be a change in leadership.


Whatever, change increases the level of vulnerability. Turning to a new direction should be done steadily. A change of direction that is rushed will make the task of maintaining balance that much more difficult. The faster the change, the more uncomfortable that will be for the passengers and the more likely they are to object. (Pastors should be able to confirm that observation!)


I make no apology by making this appeal for balance in all things relating to the Christian journey. Some have criticized this emphasis by saying that 'balance' is just another word for 'compromise'. I suppose it could be. But the way I understand it, 'balance' is an appeal to avoid the dangerous and destructive extremes that would put our aircraft under potentially disastrous pressures unnecessarily.

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