Sunday afternoons in Texas during the fall hold magical memories for me. The pleasant weather extends an invitation to so many things to enjoy. One of my favorite activities as a kid was to jump on my motorcycle and toss my helmet to the side, allowing my hair to blow in the wind, and ride... just ride, until the sun set. It was a time of pure joy, freedom, and escape.
I was around fifteen years old when I experienced painful consequences of being out of control. The neighborhood gang and I built a cart to be pulled behind one of our motorcycles. The steering was primitive but adequate if the speed remained reasonable. As in so many other areas of life, the limits had to be tested to know at what speed the steering best performed. As the only girl and the only one brave enough, I occupied the seat as test pilot when the sound barrier was broken, as well as the cart, tumbling end over end. I slid across the gravel road like a rag doll being slung around in the hands of a young girl. The point of destruction was discovered but to no good end or purpose. The cart was never useful again, and my entire right side displayed raspberries upon raspberries. I bear the scars to this day as a reminder to think before acting.
The go-cart possessed inherent problems by design. The pleasant afternoon which held the excitement of adventure and tested the bravery of those involved could not change the faulty design. The design intended for the cart to be pushed, not pulled. When pulled, the steering was useless. Only the one driving the motorcycle controlled the direction of the cart, and that control was only by slinging it from side to side.
I've thought about our faulty design many times over the years. I recall learning many life lessons through those brief moments of decision. The most impactful lesson I have learned is the awareness that there is an engine that powers this life. We live in a culture that likes to pull, resulting in chaos, accidents, and destruction. Our culture pulls toward misuse and abuse of what it means to be a "Christian." That term is no longer reserved for those who follow Jesus and His teachings. The church has seen the cultural pull toward redefining the meaning of love, faith, and the commands of God. The life of a typical "Christian" is mostly self-serving. We seek after the gift and not the Giver. We desire fame and fortune instead of desiring the Famous One. We chase the American dream as though, with the attainment of it, we will possess life. Our greatest fear has become discomfort, which has developed a craving for the comfortable. The church looks to the culture for approval and acceptance. This is clearly seen in the growing number of churches that preach an empty gospel.
The problem with this is that few are reached with the Gospel when God's people do not know how to be God's people. God's people have become a people being pulled by the culture at a dangerous speed. Pump the brakes!
Let's idle here for a minute and talk about the word "faith." Faith is defined by most as a "belief system" - a list of things one believes. From God's point of view, faith is not an admission of His existence or accumulation of facts about Him but as a complete trust in His words and following them out of that trust. Faith is a gift from God and our response to His Word. It is not merely a recognition of His existence. The natural response of faith, to those watching us, looks like obedience to His commands. It is time we as the Church start doing the pulling. In light of God's call to action, it is time to partner with the Holy Spirit in pulling the lost away from the darkness and into His marvelous light. Will we allow our steering to be faulty? Or will we submit to God's perfect design for us as His disciples?
Faith is the engine of Life.
"Go make disciples...
of all Nations, baptizing them in the name of...
the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit...
teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded."