Today I did something I'd never done before in my life. I ran out of gas. I was on my way to teach a Vacation Bible School at a church about 35 minutes away. I'd been going every morning this week. On Monday I glanced at the gas gauge and said: "Oh, plenty of gas." On Tuesday I looked at it again and said: "Still plenty of gas."
And then I never even thought about it for the rest of the week.
Pretty embarrassing to have to call someone to come with five gallons of gas to get me going again! :-/
But as I was sitting there by the side of the road, with the hazard lights blinking, waiting to be rescued, something occurred to me.
Despite the fact that I'd never done it before in my life, the fact is that running out of gas is one of the easiest things in the world to do. You know why? Because all you have to do is stop thinking about it. That's it. Just stop thinking about it.
If you stop thinking about it, the only way you can not run out of gas is to never go anywhere! But if you want to go places, and you never think about your gas, sooner or later, you run out.
That made me think of the verse in Romans 12 that says:
Spiritually, it is very easy for us to run out of gas also. All it requires is that we stop thinking about it! Paul says that we should be "renewing our minds." That's the same idea as keeping your gas tank full of gas. How do we renew our minds? Our minds are renewed as we spend time in the company of other believers, who prod us on to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). Our minds are renewed as we spend time reading and meditating on God's word, which can keep us going, just like milk keeps a baby going (1 Peter 2:2). Our minds are renewed as we think on our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who should be at the center of our attention (Hebrews 12:2).
If we want to go anywhere spiritually, we must keep our gas tank full. And the moment we stop thinking about it, the moment we stop renewing, we begin an emptying process, and we're headed for trouble.
Recently a young man in our community was killed. It was a sad and tragic time for those who knew him. What made it even more tragic was the fact that there was a group of protesters who made plans to picket his funeral. If I told you the bizarre sequence of illogic that made these people think it made sense to protest a funeral, you would hang your head in shame at the idea that there are people in this world so completely incapable of logical thought.
What makes it far worse, however, is that these protesters were representatives of a church. So you would not just hang your head in shame at their illogic, you would hang your head in shame at the thought that there might be Christians so utterly incapable of compassion and decency.
Over the last week, I've had several people comment to me that they are concerned that these protesters will "bring harm to the name of Christ" I understand their concern, but I think there is far less to worry about than they realize. The people I've talked to -- both Christian and non-Christian -- realize and understand that these people have absolutely nothing to do with Christ, even though they might claim His name. They have as much to do with Christianity as my left big toenail has to do with the current government in Bangladesh.
And everyone understands that...
In fact, I visited that church's website and went to their "about" page (which should tell us all about who they are, right?). I found that their "about" page talks in three places about the causes that they protest against, and only once mentions the name of Jesus. That in itself isn't a big deal, except that, the one time they mention the name of Jesus, it is to make a point about what the Gospel isn't.
This reminded me of two verses. One is:
The church is to be built on the foundation of Jesus Christ, and He must be the center and foundation of everything we are, and everything we do. I think it is possible that at one time this church had Jesus Christ as their foundation, but certainly that is no longer the case; now their foundation is the cause and the protest which they have embraced. One has to only visit their website or listen to their interviews to realize, this is a people which has lost its foundation.
How does something like this happen? That's the other verse I was thinking of:
If Jesus is our foundation, He is also our focus. We must never take our eyes off Him, off His life, His character, His acts, His teachings, and His death and resurrection. When we take our eyes off Him, we run the risk of having our attention fixed instead on other things.
And the other things might not even be bad things. Sometimes in the church we even get caught up in good causes. But the moment a cause, a program, or an activity causes us to lose our focus on Jesus Christ, then it becomes a danger to us all.