Making Fully Devoted Disciples of Jesus Christ
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Cruise Control Christianity

June 30 2011
June 30 2011

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

Without a doubt, one of the most helpful inventions the automobile industry has given us is cruise control. It not only makes long trips less laborious, it also helps to keep speed in check.

But cruise control can also have a negative effect by allowing us to become less engaged. I remember hearing a story, some years ago, about a van full of migrant workers driving on a California interstate who wrecked when they left the wheel unattended thinking that cruise control would allow the van to drive itself. I am hard pressed to believe the story is true.

However, it is reflective of a truism in the spiritual realm. Sometimes we are tempted to put our spiritual growth on cruise control, opening the door for experiencing a spiritual wreck. A person can lead what seems to be a thoroughly Christian life, without really being spiritually engaged. It is possible to attend church each week, to go to Bible study, to participate in ministry, and even to prioritize daily devotions, without really engaging our minds with God. You could call it Cruise Control Christianity.

I was personally convicted of this reality, in my own life, when I read Hebrews 12:1 recently. I confess that I am occasionally tempted to just go through the motions. Sometimes these temptations are the results of spiritual apathy—I just don’t “feel” like living for God. Other times these temptations come about as a defense mechanism against other people—“fine, if you don’t like the way I do it, find someone else.” And then there are times when I am tempted to go through the motions because I am too caught up in my own agenda, or sinful behaviors, or selfish desires.

Then I read Hebrews 12:1. What a powerful verse. What an inspiring verse. What an antidote to the temptation to live life on cruise control. First, it reminds us of the many believers who have gone before us who have provided examples of living life in faithfulness to God. The Scriptures are filled with phenomenal examples of faith, from Joseph and Rahab in the Old Testament, to Paul and Peter in the New Testament. We see in these examples not perfect people, but people who were seekers after God’s own heart.

After reminding us of our many great role models of faith, the verse challenges us to throw off those things which hinder us spiritually, especially the entanglements of sin. How I have seen, in my own life, the way that sin and worldly things can bog me down in the race of life or even divert me onto destructive paths. It makes me think of The Pilgrim’s Progress in which John Bunyan paints the Christian life as a journey. There are so many distractions and temptations to knock us off the path. By God’s Spirit and in obedience to God’s Word, we must get rid of such things.

And the verse concludes with a call to perseverance. This is a tough one. At times, life’s challenges can tempt us to just chuck it all. Every night’s news seems to have a story about someone who has chucked it all in a very destructive way. But for many of us, this temptation is much more subtle. Certainly, it may express itself in quitting or blowing off things that are important. Or, sometimes, it may mean keeping up appearances but without desire, passion, heart.

To persevere, however, especially in the context of the metaphor of running, is to refuse to simply go through the motions. It is to be actively engaged, to move forward with purpose, to refuse to put our lives on cruise control. In spiritual growth, it means that daily devotions (prayer and time in the Word) are not done so that we can check them off the list, but with a genuine desire to be transformed more into the image of Christ. In personal ministry, it means that we do not serve Christ’s people or our neighbors out of a sense of obligation, but with a purposeful desire to further Christ’s kingdom and bring glory to Him. Even in our down time, perseverance in the race means that we do not judge the use of our time solely by what pleases us, but that we run everything through the grid of that which is pleasing to our God (Rom. 14:17-19; Eph. 5:10-11). Ultimately, a life that is not on cruise control is one that is lived intentionally for Christ and His Kingdom. May we live our lives in this manner, to the glory of our God.

Pastor Dan


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