I was given the illustration once of a man driving down the highway in his car. For the most part he just motors along; his mind may be wandering from his family and job to his destination. One thing he’s almost for sure not thinking about is the spare tire in his trunk. Until the moment misfortune befalls him, and then he is very thankful that there is an extra tire on board to swap so he can continue on his way.
In the illustration a Christian’s life was compared to this man driving along, everything going nice and smooth, everything under control. Then something comes along, a trial or test that challenges him, challenges his ability to cope with things. And suddenly, in that moment of testing, he remembers God and His promise to care for those who belong to Him. He pulls the “spare tire” out of the trunk, hoping it has air, puts it on, drives to the shop for a repair, and just as quickly tosses it back into the trunk until the next time a trial comes upon him.
But shouldn’t there be more to Christian life, more than just turning to God when the chips are down? Doesn’t the sacrifice of His Son deserve a much deeper love and devotion?
What is a Christian?
By definition a Christian is, “a person who is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.” Jesus, the leader of all true Christians, teaches us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10. Shouldn’t that be it then? True Christianity, the life Jesus lived, is learning the Father’s will and then doing it, as it is already being done in heaven.
A “spare tire” Christian never actually comes to know the Father’s will, and thus can never do it. They’re the ones at the steering wheel, in control of where their life is going. With this mind they show God they actually don’t need His help and thus fail to receive His guidance and power in their life.
But true Christians have totally surrendered their life to God and devoted themselves to following His Son Jesus. They’ve totally given up relying on their human thoughts and ideas to amount to anything good, because they have seen time and again how poorly it has gone when they’ve been the ones at the wheel. God loves this attitude of heart so much that He fills them with His Spirit, their thoughts entering into a totally new realm, guided by Him who loves them and wants only the best for them. (Romans 8:28)
Finding out the Father’s will
Filled with this new mind they press forward, consumed with finding out the Father’s will and carrying it out in their life. At first it is difficult to hear the Spirit’s voice and enter into the Father’s will, having spent so much of their lifetime following human tendencies and influences. However, they diligently press into God through his Word and prayer, and discover with time and obedience that this voice becomes clearer as God gives His Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. (Acts 5:32) Step by step, they become totally dependent on the Father and experience that being obedient to His leading brings a fulness of joy and peace. This peace and joy bears them through trials, as they also experience that obeying God’s will means surrendering their own, a suffering unbearable to most people.
Together with the apostle Paul they say: “for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18. Having struggled under their own weakness and humanness for so long, they now rejoice over the grace it is to live in His presence and have Him guide their life. Like the prophet Isaiah, they rejoice every morning for the grace it is to awake and hear the Spirit’s voice, the guide they’ve become dependent on to navigate through everyday life. (Isaiah 50:4)
As we “drive” through our Christian life let’s be those who are led and guided in all things by Him who opened the way to life for us, our ears open and alert for that which He is saying, those changes in direction He wants to give us every day. If we are content to be at the wheel our whole life we will never enter into fellowship with the Father and the Son, and never partake of His joy and life. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. Yes; let’s rather live our lives in constant fellowship with Jesus, and we too will experience the same fruits start coming forth from our lives, to an ever-increasing degree.