In his book, Glory Revealed, David Nassar shares a story that he’d heard. I don’t know if it’s fictional or not, but it made an impact on me when I read it today. He tells of a man who just bought a classic Bentley in pristine condition. Extremely excited about his purchase, he was inordinately choosey when it came to his chauffeur. He interviewed three very qualified candidates rigorously. Each was given the same driving test. He placed an orange cone in the middle of his helipad and instructed the drivers to swerve as close as they could without hitting it. The first driver got three inches from the cone and never used his brakes. The second driver brought the car so close that the cone shook from the draft. How on earth would the third driver top that? The third driver climbed in, drove across the helipad and avoided the cone by thirty yards. When asked why by the owner, the chauffeur told him that if the goal was to not hit the cone, why even flirt with hitting it but rather avoid the danger? He was hired on the spot.
Nassar then writes, “It’s better to have a driver who is wise and guarded than the one who’s flirtatious and arrogant. Why even flirt with sin in life? Just stay as far away as possible.”
As I’ve been running to Philippians 4:8 these past days, I have been convicted again and again how my life doesn’t dwell on the things of God. My focus is so caught up in myself, in the world, and in engaging the culture around me that I am falling into the same trap that I see in the church today. In this post-modern world, as Christians, we have a tendency to embrace the culture rather than engage it. There’s a big difference.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Dwell on these things. Abide in them. Make them our permanent residence. Breathe them. Think them. They should permeate our lives. So often I am guilty of the opposite.
Whatever is true… yet somehow we think it’s okay to either ignore or embrace the lies of the world.
Whatever is honorable… yet somehow we think it’s funny to laugh at inappropriate jokes we hear.
Whatever is right… yet somehow we take what is blatantly wrong and make it fit the liberties we have arrogantly claimed.
Whatever is pure… yet somehow we think it’s okay to watch movies inundated with sexual connotation, adultery, etc.
Whatever is lovely… yet somehow we think it’s okay to use speech that is offensive in our culture because, well, “Those words aren’t expressly forbidden.”
Whatever is of good repute… yet somehow we think it’s okay to degrade others and ruin reputations.
If there is any excellence… yet somehow we think it’s okay to just get by and not strive for excellence in the tasks we are given.
If there is anything praiseworthy… yet somehow we find ways to praise ourselves rather than God and others.
John MacArthur once said, “Tell me what the world is saying today, and I will tell you what the church will be saying in five years.” That’s a sad commentary on the church and our faithfulness to His Word. I believe in Christian liberty. I believe that there are gray areas. I believe there are things that each of us will interpret differently. But I also believe there is great wisdom in being the chauffeur that stays as far away from the cone as he can.
As Bri and I were driving home from Chicago years ago, a rusted blue Chevette blew past our car on the right side vastly exceeding the speed limit. The driver’s hands clenched the steering wheel and he shot us an angry look as he flew by. We laughed at how it shook and vibrated, and I wondered how long before the rivets popped and the doors flew off. A few minutes later, we passed a silver Porsche 911 that was going a mile or two under the speed limit. The driver’s fingers were tapping to his music and his right arm rested on the seat of the woman next to him. A peaceful smile on his face, the driver nodded his head to us as we drove by. Admiring the vehicular beauty, Brian said to me, “Now that’s freedom.” “What?’ I asked, teasing him, “Owning a Porsche?” As much as he might have wanted a Porsche, that’s not what he meant. “Freedom,” he said, “isn’t driving over the speed limit holding on for dear life in your pathetic little car. Freedom is knowing you could go 150 miles an hour in a beautiful car, but choosing not to and enjoying the ride.”
So, I guess my question for myself and for my fellow Christians today is this. Which freedom are we enjoying today? Is it the freedom of seeing how close to the world we can get? Or is it the freedom of seeing how close to Christ we can be? I believe that if we choose closeness to Christ, that we’ll find the ride of our lives will be so much more enjoyable.