If you have been driving long you know that there are people who don’t belong behind the wheel of a car. Driving bus for school has given me a yellow-coated perch from which to observe these pretenders on the road. I would suppose they don’t know they are bad drivers (just as you and I may be bad drivers but don’t know it either). But I wish there was a way to tell them – a kind way, not the unhelpful hand gesture – that would explain to them exactly what they could do to improve as drivers. One such comment would be to simply inform them that the gas pedal is on the right. Too often I get behind drivers (in a bus mind you) doing well below the speed limit. They just coast along without a care in the world – especially not caring about the long line of vehicles gathering in their rear view mirror. And while they lead their own little parade I wish their GPS would kindly tell them in that wonderful British accent (just admit it – you use the voice of the woman with the British accent as well) that their gas pedal is on the right and that now would be the appropriate time to push it.
But I have found that same truth applies in my spiritual life as well. Sometimes I need (and I imagine us all) need to be reminded from time to time to press our spiritual gas pedals. It is too easy to coast through the easy times (or after perceived spiritual success) and begin to just get comfortable. In times like this I turn to the wise words of Jerry Bridges from The Discipline of Grace.
My observation is that most of us who are believers practice what I call a “cruise-control” approach to obedience. Many cars today have a convenient feature called cruise control. When you are driving on the highway you can accelerate to your desired speed, push the cruise-control button, and take your foot from the accelerator pedal. Some mechanism attached to the engine will then maintain your desired speed, and you can ease back and relax a little. You don’t have to watch your speedometer to make sure you’re not going to get a ticket for speeding, and you no longer have to experience the fatigue that comes with constant foot pressure on the accelerator. It’s very convenient and relatively relaxing. It’s a great feature on cars.
However we tend to obey God in the same way. To continue the driving analogy, we press the accelerator pedal of obedience until we have brought our behavior up to a certain level or “speed.” The level of obedience is most often determined by the behavior standard of other Christians around us. We don’t want to lag behind them because we want to be as spiritual as they are. At the same time, we’re not eager to forge ahead of them because we wouldn’t want to be different. We want to just comfortably blend in with the level of obedience of those around us.
Once we have arrived at this comfortable level of obedience, we push the “cruise-control” button in our hearts, ease back, and relax. Our particular Christian culture then takes over and keeps us going at the accepted level of conduct. We don’t have to watch the speed-limit signs in God’s Word, and we certainly don’t have to experience the fatigue that comes with seeking to obey Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.”
Because of the supremacy of Christ in all things (Col. 1:15-24) push the envelope on your obedience (Col. 3) keeping our eyes on Christ who is above in whom we have life through his death (Col. 3:1-4). And as we race we must watch out for the pitfalls that would seem wise and spiritual but leave us disconnected from the Supreme Christ (Col. 2).