The only way that Christianity has survived throughout the last 2000 years is that one generation of Christians have passed down the faith to another generation of Christians. Each successive generation must embrace the faith, live the faith, and reproduce the faith. If one generation ever fails to pass along the faith, Christianity will dwindle.
With all that the Apostle Paul was doing in the first century, planting churches, preaching sermons, standing up to authorities, suffering persecution for his faith, he did not fail in his calling to pass along what he knew about following Jesus to the next generation. In the New Testament books of 1 and 2 Timothy, we see how Paul pours into the life of a younger minister and leader of the church, Timothy.
In 1 Timothy 1:18-20, Paul instructs Timothy how to live and lead well. Paul challenges Timothy to keep “holding on to faith and a good conscience” (1 Timothy 1:19, NIV). Then, Paul points out what happens to those who do not hold on to the faith. He describes that further by saying “some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith” (1 Timothy 1:19, NIV). He goes on to point out two guys who have experienced that shipwrecked faith: Hymenaeus and Alexander.
So the end result of a faith walk with Jesus is either holding on to the faith or having a shipwrecked faith. What does a shipwrecked faith look like?
Probably the most famous shipwreck in history is the Titanic. On April 10, 1912, the Titanic launch from Southampton, England heading to New York City. Late in the evening on April 14, the “unsinkable” ship struck an iceberg and sank in the early morning hours of the next day. Think what happened to those on the ship. In one moment they were riding along in comfort and enjoying the luxuries of being onboard the ship. Then, after striking the iceberg, the passengers were jolted into panic mode as they were trying to do what they could to survive. Some were able to get into lifeboats. Others jumped into the ocean and grabbed for anything that would help them float. Some passengers and crew went down with the ship.
As Paul describes those who do not hold on to the faith, he paints the picture of their faith being shipwrecked. They are floating along in life on the comfort of the ship of faith. Then, because of some decisions and a desire to experience more of the world, their faith is shipwrecked. Sometimes those with shipwrecked faith go down with the ship. Often, they end up in the tossing sea of life grabbing for anything that will just help them stay afloat. Either way, life is not like it was when they had the ship of faith under them and sailing through life.
Are you motoring along life with faith in Christ? Recognize that just a decision or two can quickly turn your journey into a shipwreck.
Has your faith already been shipwrecked? You can climb back on board the ship of faith and continue the journey with Christ. Come back onboard.