Race fans, let’s play name association. I say Memorial Day weekend, and you say—
Okay, if you’re not well versed in racing (which, in truth, I’m not either, it’s just that I grew up in Indianapolis), I’ll give you this clue…
Now, the individuals who purposefully strap themselves into these death traps to hurdle themselves around the Indy 500’s “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” two and a half mile oval at 220mph are, well,…there are several adjectives that come to mind. At least they wear helmets, (which is more than I can get my middle schoolers to do when they ride their bikes.) This year, there was an impressively colossal two-car wreck around lap 55, with the second car doing an airborne 360 (open cockpit, mind you) into the inside railing and safety net. By design, the car shatters to absorb the impact.
And the rider gets up and walks away.
The next day, I’m working peacefully in my yard and garden. Snipping away at some wayward low-hanging branches on the maple tree, I notice a small dead limb within my reach. Grabbing it, I give a little tug, only to find that it is firmly attached to a much—much—larger branch (about five inches in diameter and seven feet long!)
After icing my skull intermittently the rest of the day, I think I have managed to avoid a concussion. Maybe I’m the one who should be wearing the helmet.
My point is this: The Indy car driver, as ridiculous as I may think his professional decision may be, has nonetheless made a fully informed one. He knows every danger and every precaution and takes nothing for granted, for doing so can cost him dearly.
Me? All I “saw” was a dead stick, whereas, if I had taken the care to inspect more fully, I would have seen the log waiting to pounce on me. Familiarity, we are told, breeds confidence, but confidence left alone can degrade into neglect.
Jesus has this to say:
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’”
Obviously, this applies to daily life, but Jesus is applying it to true discipleship. I’m wondering how much of a disservice we do people, as well as to the body of Christ as a whole, when we try to make the gospel as culturally attractive as possible, rather than as truthful as possible. Something tells me that Indy car hero has seen plenty of photos of crashes, mangled colleagues, widows and grave sites; not merely the trophies and accolades.
Maybe before we help someone with the sinner’s prayer, we ought to be showing them the suit of armor.
Luke 14:28-30 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.