My post last week on “Two Halves of the Whole Gospel” has generated some interesting conversations. I was originally intending to do a week of posts about my work, the reason this blog exists, and some tidbits about me. However, I feel the Lord tapping me on the shoulder about expanding the “Two Halves” post.
One of my concerns for the American Church is that we’re carving the Gospel up into disparate chunks, then loving our favorite chunk to the exclusion of the rest. I believe that terrible misunderstandings and errors grow like pernicious weeds because we do this. We end up missing the Lord’s best for us.
I want to begin my point here by having you all imagine a giant junkyard filled with one wrecked/junked vehicle after another for as far as the eye can see. Rusting heaps, useless, and destined for destruction.
One day, a master mechanic pulls into the junkyard behind the wheel of his rescue vehicle. He hauls some vehicles away to his garage, works on their engines, then fills them with his special fuel. A couple pumps of the accelerator and that once dead engine sputters to life.
In time, the master mechanic details each vehicle. Any portion of that vehicle that doesn’t work, he repairs. He removes all the rust, patches the holes, and primes, paints and buffs the results. The vehicles begin to look as they should. In fact, they begin to look a lot like the mechanic’s own rescue vehicle.
But the master mechanic is even more wise. He knows that each one of his vehicles exists for a reason. So he equips each with specialized parts that run off his unique fuel. To some, he gives wings to fly so they can journey to distant parts of the junkyard as his representatives. To others, he gives crane arms to lift other vehicles out of ditches should they run off the road. Each vehicle receives what it needs to serve. He makes each vehicle into exactly what he desires of it for his good purpose. Some are fast, some durable, some multi-functioned, some exceptionally good at a specific task, and many even help the master mechanic retrieve more wrecks from the junkyard. In the end, those once worthless vehicles become what the master mechanic intended for them to be in the first place. They fly, roll, and sail in tune because of the master mechanic, his rescue vehicle, and his special fuel.
Perhaps it’s too simple an illustration on some levels, but I believe that’s a decent explanation of the Gospel at work.
Sadly, too many of us live as if the Gospel stops once the master mechanic retrieves a few vehicles from the junkyard, tunes them up, and fills them with his fuel. If they do they little else than sit around the master mechanic’s lot, that’s fine.
But that’s a terrible error.
Those vehicles have a purpose and that purpose is as much a part of the Gospel as anything. If we fail to understand the truth that those vehicles have a destiny as tools for the use of the master craftsman, then we’ve missed Gospel truth. The equipping for service is part of the Gospel, too, for what was once useless now lives up to the reason for which it was made! That’s the Good News as much as not resting forever in a junkyard is.
What’s frightening is what happens when the vehicles on the master mechanic’s lot do nothing but hang around the lot all day. In time, the lot begins to resemble the junkyard: plenty of parked vehicles failing to do what they were created for. Eventually, those retrieved vehicles begin to sputter for they would rather hang out in the lot then go to the garage where the master mechanic can fuel and equip them for the purpose for which they exist.
It’s not enough to no longer be a wreck. If that’s what we think, then we don’t understand the whole Gospel.
3 thoughts on “That Saved a “Wreck” Like Me”
The other day the worship leader at my church asked me to put up our church’s vision and mission statements. Ours is based on the commandment to love God and love one another. When creating the vision statement our elders cited the “2 commandments of our Savior to love God with all our heart, with all our mind, and with all our body and to love one another as He loves us.”
Perhaps you see the issue that I brought up at the time:
“That’s one commandment. Where is the other?”
I had no question that loving God and loving others is the greatest commandment. But I think of it as only one commandment. What was the second?
By this time I actually had some of the elders and deacons in the audience. Some agreed that there was one commandment, and some said that loving God was one commandment and loving others was the second. As Jesus said, “The other is like unto it…” He also said, “There is no other commandment greater than these.” Indicating two commandments: Love God, Love others. But if we think of that as one, then what would the second be? Because the bifurcated gospel is often riven along this line. To further your analogy, Dan, it’s like puttering around the junkyard and polishing the fenders of the wrecks in the yard.
What do you think I was driving at when I said there was a second commandment?
“Indicating two commandments: Love God, Love others. But if we think of that as one, then what would the second be? ”
The second would still be love others. One time A Lincoln asked his advisers how many legs a calf would have if you called its tail a leg. After they responded “five,” Lincoln said “Four — just because you call a tail a leg, it’s still a tail.”
Back to Dan’s analogy. I appreciate the imagery. I would suggest that sometimes — many times — the master mechanic does not re-paint and polish the car but instead gets the motor and tranny working better than stock. While it wouldn’t attract many buyers if put on a sales lot, His car transports better than better looking cars do.
While this is going on, there are attempts by some of the cars in the junk yard that want to be just like the restored ones. They don’t wait to be refurbished. Instead, they help each other to get back to the last gas station they recall. While they’re getting filled up, they spring for a carwash and an oil change as well. They take care of any burned out bulbs and broken springs and replace the wiper blades. Then they move off together and look for people to carry. They end up doing a nice job until the day they finally wear out, and are returned to the bone yard.
I read your earlier post and your exchange with Franklin. I don’t think you two are that far apart. Maybe I’m wrong but I think I hear you both saying that justification is completely the work of God that saves us, and that santification is also the work of God that forms us more and more into the image of Christ and that comes out in our day-to-day lives as we do good works. Those good works don’t sanctify us, the are the result of what God’s grace is doing in us.