About a lifetime ago, when our boys were in High School, the driver’s training instructor told all of us anxious parents what to do to prepare our excited children for his class: Take them driving. I don’t think he wanted to be the first person to sit next to a teenager who had the keys for the first time!
Do you remember the day you got your license? I do! And I’ve no idea how I passed the driving test; I didn’t know how to drive. All my friends told me what the written test would be like so I memorized the rules of the road. I knew I’d have to parallel park so I learned that, too. I passed both tests on the first try.
In the weeks after I got my license I learned how to
drive. I was a good student. I watched other drivers and I mimicked them. A little too fast, not to worry, as long as you knew where the speed traps were you wouldn’t get a ticket. Rolling stop – no problem as long as no one was around. Yellow light – Speed up, of course.
My attitude toward Christianity wasn’t a whole lot different. While I knew God was drawing me, I didn’t really know how to respond to him, so I learned what I needed to say and I said it, I went forward in church, and I got baptized. And, just as in driving, once I made a profession of faith I learned what I thought it meant to be a Christian by watching the way other Christians behaved.
I thought being a Christian was mostly about keeping the “Rules of the Road”” – obeying the Bible. I didn’t realize that the Bible was more than a rule book – it was a relationship manual, but that didn’t really matter because I didn’t read it very much either way. It didn’t seem like anyone did.
Because God is good he didn’t allow me to think that way for long. I vividly recall the day he pulled me over and wrote me a ticket – the Holy Spirit convicted me of disobedience and rebellion; of sin. I felt condemned and I knew that I was not able to get myself out of that jam with good behavior, I needed a relationship with God!
I learned that my ticket had already been paid, not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of my Savior, Jesus. I understood the truth that I stand acquitted. I was convinced that the foundation of my Christian faith was not my ability to know and keep rules but God’s faithfulness.
Because I believe that what Jesus accomplished on the cross is sufficient to wash away my sin, I have been justified: I am now, and always will be, in right standing with God. God loves me, and my Bible has become our relationship manual. It reveals to me the God whom I love. And it teaches me how to show that love to him and to others – through grateful obedience.
Remembering how much it cost God to save my soul – the life of his one and only Son – makes me want to stop debating him or hiding from him. Knowing how much my salvation cost God makes me turn my eyes off of others and look only to Jesus. Knowing that Jesus left the glory of heaven to come to earth and die in my place makes me want to bow in praise, love and adoration before him. I choose obedience because I love him and I know he loves me.
I really didn’t know how to drive before I got my license, and thankfully I didn’t have to learn how to be a Christian before I was adopted into God’s family. He calls us to come as we are and then he will teach us what it means to live for him.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 NIV
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
The Bible is more than a rule book, it is the light that shows me what God would have me do, not to earn his favor, but to delight myself in him – to show him how much I love him. To bring honor to him. To lead others to him.
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” – Psalm 119:105 NIV
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn…” – Psalm 37:3-6a NIV
We are training the next generation of believers both by what we say and by what we do. They are watching us. They are listening to us. We have learned from our own experience that more is caught than is taught; what are future Christians catching from your example as they ride through life alongside you?