CMA Devotional: Chinook Riders: October 6, 2008 The Chain: Unity Without the chain, the power of the engine won‟t reach the wheels, and the bike won‟t go anywhere. (This devotional only works with a chain, so if you have a belt or a shaft, just stay with me.) A chain is made up of many parts: Chain Links: around 500 Link plates Roller pins o-ring seals Master Link It is said that a chain is only as strong as the weakest link, and there is maintenance to be done to keep the chain strong. A chain will wear unevenly. The picture shows how the chain is pulled on de- acceleration. Notice that the lower part of the chain is tighter than the top. From time to time, one must rotate the chain around the sprockets to determine where the chain is loose or tight – because a chain stretches and wears based on how the bike is ridden. If too tight, the chain can snap. If too loose, the chain can derail. Neither scenario is good. A chain must also be oiled, and the right oil must be used so that the o-rings will not be destroyed. “The 500 pieces or more that make up a chain lead a very unglamorous life. On the other hand, failure of just one of them means a side-lined bike. Proper care is not too hard on body, soul or pocketbook and is definitely worth it. If your chain was misaligned and distressed you will certainly feel the difference in ride quality after a well-deserved chain care session.” Motorcycle.com/All about chains I believe the chain can illustrate the church, or any group of Christians. If we view each link of the chain as a person within our group, then we can learn some lessons from the chain. Usually, when the topic of unity is discussed, it is presented in terms of doctrinal agreement and the outward view of the group to the world. I would like to turn that around and speak of unity as it applies to the group inwardly. Unity in this context speaks to family and how we relate to one another. We are all different, we all have life experiences that are unique – and those contribute to our attitudes, our emotions, and our reactions to things in our lives. Different stressors affect different people in different ways, and we as a group should be aware of that. Scripture provides instruction as to what unity in this context looks like: Eph 4:1-13 :: This section of scripture makes it clear that we all are treated as unique persons before Christ, and that we need to work with one another recognizing this uniqueness. Vs: 1-3 show our attitude to one another: lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance in love, all to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Isn‟t it interesting that we need all those attributes in order to maintain a Spirit of peace within the group? What does that tell us about ourselves? It seems that the fruit of the Spirit is not only something that distinguishes us to the outside world, but is also necessary to keep us from in-fighting. We all have stories, either personal or 3rd hand, of how people have been hurt within the church or within other groups of Christians – and we shake our heads and say that a Christian group shouldn‟t be like that. I think this section of scripture highlights the fact that any group of people will in fact be like that, and it is only through God‟s grace that Christians can have less of the back-stabbing and in-fighting than non-Christian groups. So, if we recognize that people-are-people, and that friction and stress are a normal part of any group of people, then we can take a different view. We can look to the maintenance that allows us to handle that stress without making it worse. 1) We can make sure that the chain is the proper tension a. We need to support one another – not create „clicks‟ or tight knots within the group, nor be so loose as to not know anything about one another 2) We can make sure that the chain is aligned with the frame a. We need to ensure that everyone knows what we are about as a group and is working to the same ends 3) We can make sure that the chain is lubricated properly a. We need to ensure that grit is removed early on, and that everyone feels a part of the whole. Matthew 18:15-17 gives us a good remedy for dealing with grit. b. Lubrication reduces wear and friction: within a group, lubrication comes in the form of fellowship, prayer support, and trust. 4) We can ride so as to reduce the strain a. We need to make sure that we are moving at a pace that others can follow. We see this in group riding – go at a pace that allows the least experienced rider to feel comfortable while not boring the more experienced riders to tears – and so it is with the group as it goes about ministry. Don‟t burn people out with too much work, and don‟t be so lax as to leave everyone unchallenged. So, as we approach the end of another riding season, lets make sure we do proper maintenance as we plan for next season.