I traded my 68 Mustang for a new car. Not a brand new car, another used car. It’s a 68 VW Beetle. When I told my church I traded these cars there was an audible gasp in the auditorium. A lot of people can’t understand why I would trade a Mustang for a Beetle. My friend Ron said, “You what? No…” A flying saucer could have landed on his forehead and Ron would have been less incredulous.
The thing is, the Mustang was okay, but it had a lot of flaws. It was a good “20 footer.” In other words, it looked good at 20 feet. The closer you got, the worse it looked.
In short, the Mustang wasn’t all it could have been, and certainly wasn’t as good as people thought. These problems all led to me being less and less satisfied with the car.
A lot of people look at the Christian life like the Beetle. They think it’s not as cool as not being a Christian. After all, if you’re not a Christian you can have sex whenever you want, you can get drunk, you can cuss and dance and have a great life. If you’re a Christian you can’t do any of that. All you get to do is pray and read your Bible and be pious. Sounds boring, so they reject it out of hand. If that’s what you think the Christian life is all about, you don’t know nothin’ ‘bout nothin’!
You see, I can cuss if I want. I can get drunk if I want. I can’t dance, but that is because I look like a rhino dodging bullets when I do it, not because of any kind of Christian conviction. I can do anything I want. I just don’t want to do those things.
In Matthew 22 Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. In other words, what is most important? He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” Matthew 22:37-40
Augustine said, “Love God and do as you please.” If I love God I can do whatever I want, but more than anything what I want is to please him. The great thing about being a Christian is that it makes my life so good that whatever it looks like I’m giving up is nothing compared to what I gain. Living without Christ may look fun from 20 feet, but the closer you look, you begin to see the flaws. The pain that divorce brings. The hurt that comes as alcohol or drugs take over your life. It may look fun from far away, but inside, the pain is intense and can swallow you up.
Paul said everything that he had was dung compared to knowing Christ. I’m sure a lot of people didn’t understand why Paul would give up everything to follow Christ. All he gave up was dung. Or a Mustang…
Driving my awesome Beetle… Jerry