Monday, July 03, 2006

The Christian life is like a .... car.

I think in the shower. That sounds weird, but I do. It is one of the few times in the day that my mind is idle. So thoughts just sort of pop to the surface. Like this one.

The life we live as a Christian can be illustrated by a car. Look, I know it's weird. But John Wesley likened grace to a house, so go with me for a minute.

Now I'm not an automative mechanic of any sort. I know enough to stay out from under the hood. But I know the basic working of a car. So here is my analogy.

You have fuel, an engine, oil, a transmission, and an axle. The fuel is Bible reading, prayer, and other practices of devotion (fasting, studying, fellowship). The engine is faith. Church involvement is the oil. Our love of God is the transmission. Loving our neighbor is the axle.

The fuel - hi-octane or regular? As we read our Bibles, pray, and practice other acts of devotion (called disciplines) we are supplying our faith life with what it needs to run efficiently. When we don't spend the time to do these our spiritual life is stalled out. We can "get by on fumes" for a while. But we will be spiritually drained. The acts of devotion provide the go power we need to continue on the journey with Christ. Is there a right kind of discipline? We all have different personalities. What one act of devotion will do to energize one person will have a draining effect on another. Some people are really charged up with prayer. Others with reading or memorizing the Bible. Some love to dance. Others like to write poetry. Some people do housework as an act of devotion. I know, I don't get that one either. What I want you to hear is that you need to discover the act of devotion or discipline that "revs your engine" spiritually speaking and be devoted to doing that act.

What do you have under the hood? Faith is our engine. It is what moves us. Faith is the power behind what we do and how we do it. Some people have little faith. It's like a little 2-stroke engine. There are some spiritual powerhouses. They are V-12 supercharged followers who don't have the faith to move mountains...they drive through them. But we are not supposed to live with the engine we start with. Faith grows. It can continually grow. Depending on the fuel we use, our faith engine can be upgraded through our whole lives. Paul talks about growing into the stature of Christ. That little faith engine we started with back in our younger days can be swapped up for a more powerful faith. But we have to be willing to work at it. We have to be willing to be devoted and perform acts of devotion. Then we will have a faith that can really get us down the road.

Don't gum up the works. Every engine needs oil to work. It keeps the moving parts moving. It also keeps things from becoming trashed. In our faith lives nothing keeps us moving and prevents us from trashing our faith lives like being a part of a church. I don't mean going to church when it is convenient. I don't even mean going every time the doors are unlocked. I mean actively involved in the life of the church. The church is the local manifestation of the body of Christ. It is part of who we are as baptised believers to be involved with a community of other believers. We are a part of one another. We belong to one another in Christ. We are to submit to and care for one another. There are over 100 "one another" statements in the New Testament. This is how the church lives. We are a part. Our faith will run on personal acts of devotion. But if we cut ourselves off from the community of faith, we lose the precious life sustaining presence of ministry from, to, and with other believers.

Put your faith in gear. Faith is an action in the Bible. It is not head knowledge or merely thinking "God thoughts". Faith is a life pattern. It is how we will live out our lives. And Christ says the first rule of life is "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength." To get our Christian life car moving, we need to put it in gear. Gears transfer the power of the engine to movement on the road. The transmission is the housing for those gears. The transfer of faith power to living holy lives is loving God. It is the key to all that we will do. If we do not have our heart, mind, soul, and body right with God, we won't move at all. (Sidebar: transmissions need fluid to run also - we learn how to love God and live out that love in church.)

Now we are moving. The last piece of the car we are considering is the axle. Axles make the wheels move. That in turn makes us go. The axles are loving our neighbors. If our faith life is going to go anywhere, then we have to develop a love for other people. Not just our family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers, but love for all people. That love will encourage us to go out and live our faith. We will help when others are in need. We will pray with others when they are hurting. We will witness to our faith story when people are lost and need hope. Jesus says that in the end, all people will be judged not on the size of their engine but on how far they went to loving others.

So ends my analogy. No, the shower wasn't as long as it took to read this. I think in pictures, like most other people. But my pictures are vivid and stick with me. Just like a bad song you can't get out of your head all day. So will this picture of the faith life be with you ALLLLL day.
Post a Comment