The church is a wooded island, and it produces three kinds of wood. The first would be the living grove, what makes the island an inviting place, lush and green. The second would be the dead wood, that which is not growing itself but remains in place, hindering the growth of the rest. And the third category would be that of drift wood, wood that is from the island but is not long for the island.
So I want to give a series of exhortations about the dangers of drifting. “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1, ESV).
Just as growth in Christ is slow growth, so also the reverse sanctification of drifting is a slow process. No one lives a vibrant Christian life for years only to wake up one morning deciding to throw it all away in one go. No, this process happens by drifting, by means of a long series of miniscule choices that seem, each one in isolation, to be no big deal. But collectively these choices add up to a disastrous end, to a twisted piece of wood on the beach.
The thing that keeps a church community growing and vibrant is personal love, affection, and loyalty, what the Bible calls koinonia. The thing that is deadly to this loyalty is a spirit of grumbling, murmuring, complaining, or any other dour cousins that might be with them. This grumbling usually begins inside the home, then to a circle of friends, and spreads its contagion from there.
Many don’t think that they have a problem with sinful disloyalty because of inertia. Uprooting everything and going elsewhere would be a hassle, and the exasperation is not yet that great. But inertia is nothing like loyalty, and grumbling is nothing like honest differences of opinion.
As Charles Spurgeon once put it, faults are thick when love is thin.