The car kept pulling to the right. It was becoming more and more noticeable. As I drove along the streets of Clinton I needed to keep a steady downward pull on the steering wheel with my left hand to keep the car centered in the lane. At first I thought this was the natural result of “crowning”—the sloping of a street’s surface toward the curb in order to provide effective drainage. Depending on the severity of the angle, this slope can cause a car to pull toward the outside. Since some of our streets in town have a fairly significant crown, I thought that might be the problem. However, any doubt about the cause of this “pulling” was removed when we took a road trip to Michigan. I was compensating to the left all the time. Rats! That meant a repair bill was in my near future!
Shortly after returning from the trip I took my car to the shop for an alignment. And was it worth the cost! Driving after that repair was a breeze! Eight hours of fighting the steering wheel can be distracting, if not draining. But that was all gone and driving was a pleasure again!
The funny thing is, we need personal alignment as well. In the first four chapters of the book of 1 Corinthians, God speaks to us about being aligned. The most noticeable aspect of alignment mentioned in these chapters is the need for believers in a local church to be aligned with one another. The Christians at Corinth were pulling in different directions. Some followed one leader and some followed another. Rather than being in harmony with one another, they were posturing and quarreling. This resulted in divisions, not unity. The apostle Paul appealed to them to “be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1:10).
But through Paul, God speaks of the need for an even deeper alignment: being aligned with the gospel by God’s Spirit. We desperately need to understand the message of Christ crucified. This message is the power of God for salvation to all who believe. In Jesus Christ, crucified, we find all we need, including harmony with our brothers and sisters.
And God has given us His Spirit to reveal to us this marvelous message of the cross, foolishness in the world’s estimation but filled with the power of God Himself. As we yield to the Spirit’s gospel-pull and listen to His teaching about Christ crucified, we become aligned. And in this alignment—with the gospel, with God’s Spirit, and with one another—true spiritual life can be experienced.
Maybe it’s time for a visit to the shop. Time for an alignment.
(Pastor Tom is currently preaching through the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians. If you can’t make it to the worship service, listen online! www.journeyclinton.org/sermons)