Last week I had to do some work on the Suburban. The rear differential had started to leak and we had a big campout coming up on Labor Day weekend so I wanted to get it squared away before driving a couple hours out into the middle of nowhere. Now, my father taught me how to change the oil and the brakes, how to do a tune up and handle a flat tire, and how to replace a water pump and thermostat. But beyond that I’m pretty much self-taught, albeit with some good resources (my brother is an ASE certified mechanic). All that is to explain that when the differential started to leak, I was completely surprised because I didn’t even know there was anything in it to leak. I’d simply never had to deal with one and had never given it any thought.
After half hour or so of searching the web and watching videos of people doing the repair, I felt like I was adequately armed to tackle the project. A trip to the parts store and $20 later I had everything I needed to fix the leak. I took my time and went slow since I’d never done the job before. I’m sure someone with more knowledge and experience could have done it from start to finish in 30 minutes or less. It took me four times that long, but I wanted to do it right the first time. And it worked. I fixed the leak and we went on our trip and had an amazing time with some good friends.
As I was laying on my back and working my 13mm socket wrench under the truck, I got to thinking about worship and church in general. Sometimes we notice a small signal that all is not quite right. It is so easy to brush those things aside. Sometimes the signals are confusing because we don’t expect them from that person or that ministry. Our response to these signals needs to be flexible and targeted to the issue at hand. Watching and waiting to see how things develop is a good start. Finding out more about the situation informs our understanding of what is going on. Prayer and seeking God’s guidance is key throughout the process.
Maybe the right answer will be to continue to watch and pray and let the issue work itself out. Maybe a simple intervention early on where we come alongside one another to encourage and edify will forestall a greater problem down the road. Maybe we recognize the signs at a late stage and the problem requires a bigger solution. Whatever the answer that the Lord may leads us to, the one thing that we shouldn’t do is ignore the red flags we see around us.
Would the differential on my truck have seized up from the tiny leak that I found? Not likely – at least it would have taken months to get to that point. But by identifying the problem early and taking steps to correct it, I was able to become more familiar with my vehicle’s operation, keep it running smoothly, and for a minimum of time and treasure give myself peace of mind as my family and I headed out into creation. The same is true of our experience in the Christian community. We are all interconnected as parts of the body of Christ. Consistently praying for one another, building stronger relationships, and reaching out to help those in need strengthens our ties as brothers and sisters in Christ and is the regular maintenance the church requires.