The other day I’m driving around and I hear an annoying ‘boing-boing’ sound. Normally the only annoying sound I hear when I’m driving is my singing so this really caught my attention.
The oil pressure gauge read no oil pressure! Then it read too much oil pressure!
Either the motor was going to seize or blow up!
My poor truck. We’ve been together a long time and every scratch and dent and rust hole is a story. It has more miles on it than the space station!
And it just keeps on trucking.
I like my truck more than most of my kids. Probably because it cost less and doesn’t talk back.
Turns out the gauge was faulty. It still is, and we, truck and I, learned to live with it.
As a Christian I also have to pay attention to my own gauges. I don’t want seize up and I certainly don’t want to blow up. But what if my gauge is faulty? Or what if I simply ignore it?
Did you know that in all of us there’s a battle going on? Yup there is. It’s between the flesh and the spirit. The flesh wants things that make it happy like sex, alcohol, and junk food. The spirit wants things that brings us in line with the holiness of God.
Too much fleshly stuff, and we forget about our spiritual side. The flesh, or the desires of our physical side, is never satisfied. Remember when you were a kid and goodies were around? Most of us wanted one. Then we wanted another one. The same pattern repeats itself as adults. We earn a living. Then we want a better living. We discover sex and we want more sex. Even mentally and emotionally we desire to be loved, accepted and successful. We can be happy with what we have until someone else has more. Pride and ego need constantly to be stroked.
We pursue the things that feed our desires. If food, then food. If success, then success. If beauty, then beauty.
The spiritual side pursues just one thing. God. It desires a strong relationship with God and sees the pursuits of the world as distractions or sins.
These two sides just don’t get along!
So if I pursue the things that stroke my ego or make me temporarily happy, I am not growing spiritually and my spiritual oil pressure is dropping until my spiritual engine seizes.
How about other side? How can I blow my motor by being too spiritual? Is there such a thing as being too Christian?
Well, no there isn’t a danger in this but only if your spirituality is relational with Jesus. The danger comes into it when we try to do holy instead of understanding that we are holy only because Christ is our Lord.
Once we understand that it is His holiness that allows us to live by the spirit then the pressure is off. We are not in danger of blowing up.
Yet Christians are blowing up. They fly into rages of self righteousness because the world is an evil place or because the neighbor drinks beer or lives a different lifestyle.
Some even have fits if the church is dirty, the music is too loud, or the Pastor has long hair.
In the Bible this type of external spirituality was typified by the Pharisees. They followed all the rules and did all the right things yet had no relationship with God. They were scared of Jesus because they were focused on doing holy.
This type of focus often turns fleshy since it looks external instead of internal. They literally blew up when they were confronted with the true spirituality of Jesus.
That’s how too much pressure can blow us up. We start judging everyone, including ourselves, on a set of standards that are impossible to keep.
That’s why we need our gauge to work. We need to know when we are pursuing the things that take away from God. Even if the things pursued seem like the right things.
Check your gauge and if the Holy Spirit is boinging inside your mind pay attention. Ask yourself what is it you are focused on. Unless it’s a relationship with Jesus, you might be in for some pretty expensive engine work!
Andy Becker is lead of Lighthouse Ministries which brings God’s love and presence to the North Central area of Regina, Canada. He is also a writer, public speaker, former counselor, and former Executive Director of a Hospice.