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My husband was driving home the other day when he came up behind a car that had stalled in the middle of the road.  The owners of the vehicle had the hood up and were trying to determine what might be wrong.  My husband stopped and asked if he could help. After looking the engine over, it was obvious that the car would not be going anywhere for a while.  It needed some major work.  So he offered to help the owners get it off the road and into a parking lot.  Immediately the driver got a bit agitated.  Seems he had just gotten his car painted and he didn’t want to do anything to mess it up.  My husband had no other choice than to leave them in the middle of the street with a great paint job.

Christians, particularly in America, are walking around with some pretty good paint jobs.  We look really good on the outside…out in public…when people are watching…but on the inside, our engines are failing.  We are giving up our time and our resources to God when it is convenient, when it suits us, when we feel a little guilty, and checking off the “bear fruit” box.  We know a few key verses that we can spout off to make ourselves look spiritual, how to offer up a decent prayer if we are ever called upon, what kind of FB status will give an impression of godliness, and which sins to avoid to keep our reputations in tact…but if we are honest with ourselves, our hearts are far from Him.

Jesus put it this way “You are white washed tombs full of dead man’s bones.”  No matter how pretty the outside is, it cannot change what is inside.

Racial upheaval is the latest case telling on Christians with great paint jobs and bad engines.  Instead of listening to each other…and I mean listening, not just waiting to make your own point… instead of validating each other… instead of logically working through the arguments of both sides… we are all just yelling our opinion louder than the other guy.  Basically, my paint job is better than yours or more important than yours or more important to Jesus than yours.  And again, we will get nowhere…because we are looking to protect our paint job…or get a new paint job…when the real problem is with our engines.

And churches today are not worried about engines. Give them a Jesus paint job. Bring them in…tell them He loves them and wants them to be happy…give them sermons that will shine up the outside real good…but let’s not do the engine work. Nobody wants engine work. It’s expensive. It’s grueling. It’s time consuming. It’s gonna require that we sacrifice the car for a bit. Nope, leave the engines alone.

So we’ve got a bunch of Christians stuck in the middle of the road worried about their paint job. And a bunch more that are not stuck just yet but will be soon. And a bunch more going in for paint jobs but ignoring the engine completely.

This is the Church in America.

And God forbid that we say the “sin” word…but these three letters are the ones that destroy the engine. “Let it go…Let it go…” and pretty soon there are gonna need to be some obvious repairs.

But GRACE…

Yes, GRACE… the precious gift that allows us to live for Christ and not for sin anymore…the amazingness that picks us up when we fall (and we will…and do)…the treasure that cost Jesus HIS LIFE.

We are all about casual Christianity these days. Respect and fear of the Lord are from the days of old. Come on in. Plop yourself down in our comfy chairs. Let’s sing a few really well played songs…hey, let’s have a concert…that’s fun. Okay, now time for us to pull out the Word paint. Cause you’ve had a really long week and the last thing you want to do is hear how your engine is headed towards failure if you don’t do something about it. Besides, if you are uncomfortable in any way, you may not come back. And after all, church is about the number of people we can move through this assembly line and send back out into the world looking changed.

We have GOT to start examining our engines, y’all…our hearts. The issues of life are at stake.

We have fallen for the enemies schemes and we are nothing deeper than a great paint job. And the worst of it is, when the help does come, we reject it…for fear we will mess up our paint.

When someone points out sin in our life out of concern for our life, we reject it…after all, they aren’t perfect…who made them judge. When we hear a sermon that makes us squirm in our seat a little, we find a new church or stop going all together…after all, church is supposed to make us happy. When the conviction of the Holy Spirit comes, we make an excuse…or we blame…or we quench. Anything to keep us from looking under the hood…after all, we look GOOD.

Many, many, many Christians are choosing sin over trusting God and His Word. Many of them are buying the lie that they can get by with it as long as they throw Jesus’ Name out there a little bit and assure everyone around them that they are trusting God through their circumstance… but don’t mess up my paint job. They don’t want to hear truth. They want to hear something that makes what they want to do “okay”. They don’t want to feel the conviction that the Holy Spirit will inevitably bring to their lives. They don’t want to have to deal with the humility of repentance and the getting back up again. They want a smart phone, microwave, remote control, “wow, that’s a great paint job” religion. Religion is predictable after all. Relationships take work.

But Christ wants more. Christ demands more. Christ commands ALL.

“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”

There is no paint job in that statement…only engine work. There is nothing microwave about cross carrying. It is relationship driven. It is willingly walking through suffering because the Love of your life has asked you to. It is asking for and desiring conviction because the last thing that you ever want to do is disappoint the One who died for you. It is not giving a flying flip about the paint job as long as the engine will get you to the Destination.

CHURCH, how can I urge you any stronger? We will soon see Jesus face to face…some of us before others. Whatever we hear from His mouth, it will not be “Nice paint job”. Only man looks on the outward appearance of things. Our Savior, He knows your heart. Every intricate detail of your heart is known by Him. He knows if you have had a relationship with Him or not. He knows those who are truly His and those who are just playing games and looking good.

No engine is too far gone for Him. He is in the redeeming business. He knows exactly where the problems lie and how to fix them. He longs to take a look at your engine… but can I be frank, it might mess with your paint job a little…or a lot. You can trust Him. He’s got a reputation for being thorough and for never giving up. He wants nothing more than to get you back out on the road…better than ever.

A friend of mine posted this tonight…

“Big day at church today. I realized this week that I was not where I need to be in my walk with the Lord. I had been playing church games , but the reality is I was not truly following Christ like I should. So today I went forward during the invitation and gave my heart to JESUS CHRIST today. And I am a new dude because of it! Please pray for me as I lead my wife and kids forward. I’m not perfect and I will make mistakes but my heart belongs to the Lord and I am committed to putting HIM first in myself and my family’s lives! giving your life to Jesus is the best decision you can ever make!!”

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are really in the faith…” II Corin 13:5