It was obvious even to a neophyte with no knowledge of mechanics that the white smoke billowing out of the tailpipe of the car wasn’t a good thing. The mechanic made his preliminary diagnosis in a matter of seconds when he pulled the dipstick out of the engine and showed me the white frothy mixture on the dipstick that meant absolutely nothing to me. (Alright, so I knew that it was supposed to be black — give me a little credit — I did check and change my own oil regularly.)
“Water in your oil.” he pronounced, which, while I knew that there wasn’t supposed to be water in my oil, I had no idea who might have put it there or how it might have somehow snuck into my engine.
Some months later I actually did a little experiment just to reconfirm this new discovery and to reassure myself that a complete overhaul had been necessary. I took some motor oil, some water, a plastic bowl commandeered from the kitchen, and my electric drill with a paint mixer attached. Initially, when I poured the oil into the water, the two did some little swirly dancing together but quickly separated into completely segregated layers; then I went to work. Within moments I had recreated the whitish frothy looking mixture that reminded me of something for which I have seen people paying good money at Starbucks. (I’m about as much a coffee drinker as I am a mechanic.) Then I made a second discovery — within minutes of when I quit mixing the oil and water, they had separated into their respective layers.
It was only a short time after my little experiment and its discoveries that I realized that I had been watching this experiment repeatedly for years in another arena. Church.
You see, the way that Christianity is taught in most churches is like trying to mix oil and water. Churches are intent upon creating harmony between physical men and a spirit God. The best way to define their doctrine is Behavioral Modification — trying to get men to act in a way that is acceptable to God or reflects His righteousness. Even now, many of you are nodding your head, thinking that is the what Christianity is all about. It’s not.
When God created man, He created him in His own image. That doesn’t mean that God is 6’ tall and grows whiskers (Nope, that word for “man” there includes women too!). It means that God, who is spirit, created spirit beings he called man and placed them for a short part of their lives in a flesh shell to live a physical life on this earth. But the part of man that is created in God’s image is spirit, just as God is spirit. So, here we are living as a complex being in two realms at the same time — spirit beings living in a spirit world and fleshly beings living in a physical world. And here is where Christian doctrine took a sidetrack some years back when the focus for man became that portion of his life which is most visible. Unfortunately, no amount of behavioral modification in the physical realm will ever bring a spirit into harmony with God.
I have observed over the years many church programs designed to get people “involved” under the assumption that if we can just make people act right then they will change internally. And if one is not quite getting the job done, then add another program and then another. While well intentioned, such a strategy may even be counterproductive to our real goal as it takes time and energy away from man’s greatest need. The reality is that these programs are quite often just mixing oil and water and stirring vigorously. And if the two aren’t becoming one, well, stir a little faster. Unfortunately, with this kind of theology, when you quit stirring the people start drifting away, never really changed.
Christianity is about recreating the harmony between man and God that was lost because of sin. It is about becoming one with God — one spirit. I Corinthians 6:17
The beauty of this restored spirit harmony with our creator is the impact that it has on our physical life and world. The one led by the spirit — the one with the mind of Christ — will live differently in the flesh. When our hearts are right our actions reflect it in a way that behavioral modification can never accomplish. Only then will we turn the world upside down with our Christian witness as they will see God living in us.
What I need isn’t another program to consume my time in “Christian service” but another hour alone with my Father just allowing my spirit to be renewed and my heart transformed. Then my entire life will be lived as a living sacrifice to God.
It was determined that the water had gotten into my oil through the tiniest crack in my head (sounded vaguely like something that my mother used to say to me when I was young) and the resulting mixture reduced the effectiveness of the oil and would result in destroying my entire engine. And then, when the engine got hot and metal expanded, the crack opened up even larger and allowed even more water into the oil. It was vicious and destructive cycle, very much like the notion that acting better is what Christianity is about and then the guilt that follows our failure to act perfectly.
Jack was raised in a Christian home where he spent his youth preparing to preach God’s word. First published at thirteen, writing and speaking became Jack’s passions. Whether through newspaper columns, magazine articles, radio broadcasts or public speaking engagements, Jack continues to share his heart with his readers. His life’s motto: To Know God, and To Show Him To Others.