by Alan Allegra 2/12/2014 / Christian Living
I've been doing something very naughty. It's downright embarrassing, and experts in the field say it can cause permanent damage. The guilt rides with me every day, and even my wife notices it. I couldn't hide it from the boys at Pep Boys, and they offered to cure it. Yes, I admit it: I've been driving around for weeks with my CHECK ENGINE light on! The way I look at it, the light works, so that's good. I did check the engine, and it's still there, so I can relax.
CHECK ENGINE is one of many warning lights meant to alert us to danger, put there for our protection. We can downplay their importance by ignoring them or temporarily mute their voice by covering them with tape, but the underlying danger won't go away.
God's Word is full of warnings, starting from Genesis. God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil or they would die (Genesis 2:17). They ignored the warning, "so death spread to all men" (Romans 5:12). They RATIONALIZED their disobedience (Genesis 3:6), yet met the danger.
The account of Moses and Pharaoh in Exodus warns us to heed the warnings of the Word of the Lord. It took ten horrible plagues before Pharaoh would obey, but even then, he REGRETTED obeying God and overtook the fleeing Israelites with disastrous results: The Red Sea overtook his entire army. He tried to fix the engine himself and it blew up in his face.
In Acts 7, Stephen, wrongly accused of blasphemy, gave an indisputable, in-depth sermon about Israel's history of disobedience to the point of persecuting the prophets and murdering the Messiah. Stephen accused his hearers of being "stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears . . . always RESIST(ING) the Holy Spirit" (v. 51). As if to prove his point, they "stopped their ears . . . and stoned him" (vv. 57, 58).
In the movie "The Princess Bride" Miracle Max is taunted by his wife for being a coward. As he runs away, Max, in his best Yiddish accent, says, "I'm not lissssning!" Not "lissssning" provides no lessening of the consequences of ignoring a warning.
Being used to the CHECK ENGINE light being on, I could easily ignore the BRAKE, TEMP, and OIL lights. "Foolish!" you say? No more than pretending God's Word doesn't exist or needn't be taken seriously. "He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing" (Proverbs 29:1).
Hebrews warns against doubting the Word of God, suffering the same fate as the Israelites after leaving Egypt: "'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion . . . As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my REST.'" Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God" (3:812).
Every car comes with an owner's manual, providing instructions and warnings to ensure years of carefree driving. The warnings alert the driver to dangerous problems. In the providential care of a loving God, the Bible was written to ensure an eternity of consecrated living. Of the words of God, King David said, "Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great REWARD" (Psalm 19:11). Obeying the Heavenly Owner's manual brings rewards greater than a carefree driving experience: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68).
Warning lights are our friends, not to be ignored, although it is unnerving when they go on. Headlights, on the other hand, bring comfort when they are on, for they make clear the road ahead. In much the same way, the Bible makes clear the way of life: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).
God never leaves his obedient children in the dark; his Word illuminates the road ahead, and if you veer off the road, the light of conscience will flash, warning you to fix what's wrong. Ignore it at your own RISK! Happy motoring!