“RIVETS OF THE TITANIC”                            By Pastor YAU

Text: Galatians 5:16-26                                        January 13, 2008.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   It’s all about rivets: Scientists have determined that faulty rivets may have caused the rapid sinking of the “unsinkable” HMS Titanic. According to researchers who recently examined parts recovered from the wreck, impure rivets made of wrought iron rather than steel caused the ship’s hull to open like a zipper. The Titanic proves the foolishness of spending so much on fancy decorations and promotion while neglecting the ‘ordinary” yet very important rivets.

2)   It’s all about people: In a sense, churches are like ships and all the people in them are like rivets. Some may think that no one may see the rivets and therefore they are not important but they are. They are the little ones that hold the ship together and get it going. Same is true to the “common” people at the churches. Some may think that the ordinary Christians are not important, but they are the ones who hold the church together and get it going. As the quality of the rivets determines the strength and safety of a ship, the quality of the common people of the church also determine the strength and the success of a church.

 

THE FAULTY TITANIC:

1)     A faulty ideology: To believe and call a ship, any ship made of anything, “unsinkable” is way out of mind and out of line. The same is to believe and call a building, any building built of any material, “indestructible.” Some may have believed that the twin towers of the World Trade Center “indestructible” until September 11, 2003. Anything man made is subject to deterioration and destruction. It is only a matter of time. Many ancient powerful conquerors, emperors and kings may believe their kingdom will last forever. History has proven again and again that no kingdom is going to stand forever regardless of the wills of those who built them. The ideology of Titanic designers was faulty at best.

2)     A faulty priority: If you have seen the movie “Titanic”, you must be impressed by the elegant design, the luxury decoration from the silky drapery to the gold trim goblets, from the craftsmanship of beams and pillars to the gold imprint on the silverware, from the lavish ballroom to the stylish banquet hall and the fine chinaware and their glass window hutches. All these were designed to please the eyes of the beholders---the passengers. But all these were done at the expense of the steel rivets needed to hold the metal plates of the ship together to ensure the safety of the ship. To believe the look is more important than safety is another faulty element that contributed to its sinking.

3)     A faulty attitude: History records many stories on the fall of men due to their faulty pride and the sinking of the Titanic just added one more to the book. From the owner of the company to the engineers who stretched their brain, from the Captain to his officers, all of them were so proud in the parts they played in the building and sailing of the ship. Pride had blinded their common sense that they disregard the marine time rules to provide adequate life boats. The ship carried some 2,400 passengers plus hundreds of crews but it had life boats enough to carry only 800 people. They believed that the life boats were just for decoration. They will never be needed. Pride leads men to disregard common sense, blinds them not to see the danger in taking risky routes.

4)     A faulty segregation: If you have seen the movie, you won’t forget the scenes when the bottom of the ship was flooded with rising water, the passengers who paid the cheapest fair and stayed at the lowest level of the ship were trying to get to the higher level. But they were stopped by iron gates locked and guarded. While I can understand the rule: you get what you pay, and if you pay less, you enjoy less. But when it is in a life and death situation, all lives are equally important and valuable. To put a higher value on the lives of the rich than the lives of the poor is unethical.

 

THE FLAWLESS TRUTH: If churches are like ships as some said, we need to make sure that no church is going sink the way Titanic did. We need to make sure that whatever caused the sinking of the Titanic is not going to sink any church. Let’s go to the Bible to find some guidelines.

1)   The flawless ideology: “The world and all its desires shall pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17)This is only one of the many verses in the Bible that tells us all the things in this world are fragile and temporary at best. Every desire of man and his achievements will pass away, be gone, vanished, deteriorate and destroyed someday. To believe in anything that it may last forever is against God’s design and will. The only one thing that will last forever is to do the will of God. We should not believe or pursue the things of this world but the Kingdom of God for only this is everlasting.

2)   The flawless priority: “The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height for the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)This familiar verse and many others similar in meaning tell us one important truth: do not work so much to decorate yourself on the outside. Build yourself more and better on the inside because it is where God looks at. The truth of God is often in direct contradiction with the wisdom of this world. Invest more in the important things God deems valuable. Do not waste your resources, time and efforts in things which have little of nothing to do with the true value of your life.

3)   The flawless attitude: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12) These are the words of Jesus. King Solomon also exhorted us to be humble in Proverbs 3:34, “God mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.” He also pointed out that humility is the path to glory and honor in 15:33, “The fear (respect) of the Lord teaches man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” Pride is the prelude of falls is always true. We need to build our confidence on God and not on ourselves. It is in His power we can do all things. (Phil. 4:13)

4)   The flawless equality: “But glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jews then to the Gentiles. For God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:10-11)Showing favoritism is one of human flaws. We are often influenced by our likes and dislike in relating to others. But God treats everyone the same way regardless of their race, color, socio-economic or educational level. Treating people with equality is always a biblical principle. This is especially important in God’s church. With all the differences in a church, we need to see them from God’s stand point: they are all important and they all have the same privilege and opportunity in God’s church.

 

WE NEED GOOD RIVETS: If the quality of the rivets is so important to the safety of a ship like Titanic, the quality of the common and often time invisible people in a church is also important to the safe sailing and growing of a church. Here are some of the necessary qualities: (Text)

1)    Live by the Spirit: “Live by the spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:16-18) In Romans 7, Apostle Paul described in detail the warring between the human flesh and the Spirit of God. The first battle Christians have to win is to live by the Spirit not by the flesh. This is about to whom we submit our life to: to God or to the flesh.

2)    Shun the evil: Paul lists 15 evil acts of the flesh in 5:19-21 to help Christians recognize them and stay away from them. No real Christians can be useful if they allow evil acts of the flesh to continue working in their lives. This is about Christian testimony in everyday life. We cannot glorify God if we continue to sin in the flesh. We need to know them and rid all of them. Paul warns us that people who allow evil acts of flesh to continue in their life, they will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (21)

3)    Pursue the good: Here in 5:22-23, Paul lists 9 kinds of fruits of the Spirit and asks Christians to pursue growing them because all there is no law against these fruits. It is not enough that Christians stay away from evil passively. We much also actively pursue the fruits of the Spirit to glorify God and bring good testimony to the world. Christians with many of these fruits of the Spirit are like pure steel rivets who will help holding God’s church afloat.

4)    Crucify the old: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (5:24)Be sure and courageous to separate ourselves from the sinful nature and all its passions and desires. Never allow the old nature to come alive again. This needs a constant daily walk with the Lord, seeking Hid will and power everyday in everything we do.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)    It’s everybody’s job: We need good and pure steel plates to build a safe ship. We also need good and pure rivets to hold the plates together. In the same way, a strong church needs both good leaders (steel plates) and genuine members (steel rivets). Never neglect the importance of the “common” people in the church. Each Christian is a rivet and he/she must be pure and genuine so the church will be strong and going to achieve the goals God has set for us.

2)    Be pure and genuine: Ridding the impurity from our hearts and bodies is a necessary step we need to take everyday of our life. We need to be honest to see our inside each day to make sure we are not ordinary wrought irons but pure steel rivets to build strong churches. Walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh, is our everyday goal. Be aware of the temptations and acts of evil in our daily life. We all want to see our church is a strong church. Then we need to make sure we are capable to hold the church together through all circumstances.

3)    Board a safe ship: When we have Jesus as our Captain, spiritual men as steel plates and genuine Christians as pure rivets, we will have the best ship in the whole world. This ship will hold us all together, sailing to eternity and bring us to the presence of God in His glorious day when he comes back again. You want to be on board of this ship so you will have eternal life in the eternal God.