Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Is Your Faith on Autopilot?

By Allen White

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
Matthew 23:23-24

Most of us would prefer not to know what goes on in the cockpit of a commercial airplane. We would like to assume that the pilots are capable, well-trained, alert, well-rested tea-totalers who will get us there safely. Once that cockpit door is shut, we prefer to imagine Captain Sully Sullenberger at the controls (just as Bob Moore did on USAir Flight 1549). Ignorance is bliss.

The failsafe of aviation is auto-pilot. I’m not a pilot. I’ve never played one on TV, but I do know that when our tray tables are in the upright and locked position, the pilot is running the show. But, between the takeoff and the landing, the plane is on autopilot. If something needs attention, the plane will alert the pilot. Otherwise, they just sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight with the rest of us.

While on autopilot, there’s time to nap or play Soduku or watch Airplane the Movie. As long as the pilot doesn’t need to ditch the plane into the Hudson, it’s blue skies all of the way.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day lived their spiritual lives on autopilot. Ten percent went to God. Ninety percent was kept for them. It was a no-brainer. The only problem is that no-brainers don’t require any thinking.

Justice, mercy and faithfulness require thought. The first time I heard Gary Haugen from the International Justice Mission talk about slavery and human trafficking in the world today, it was a bit overwhelming. It was both hard to believe and horrifying at the same time.

I wanted to retreat back into the comfort and safety of my spiritual life. I pray, read my Bible, tithe, serve God and His people. Isn’t that enough? Now, I had to think about millions of men, women and children enslaved throughout the world including the United States of America. Could I just write a check and then sit back, relax and enjoy the flight?

What would you rather not think about? When are you tempted to change the channel on your TV or in your mind? How are you seeking out the safety of autopilot? God put you and me on this planet to make a difference. What do you feel compelled to do?

It’s easy to attend church every Sunday, and then retreat to our suburban homes. There’s nothing wrong with that. Unless we’re like the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan who would rather cross over to the other side of the road and not get involved. Jesus’ mission is to seek and save the lost. What could be more fulfilling than being on-mission with Jesus?

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