Sunday Sermonizing: Auto Mechanics and the Way of Faith
There’s a mechanic’s shop not far from my home.
When we have major issues with a car in our family, that’s where we go. It’s like being in a surgical room for cars. Except this place is not a sterile hospital surgery. This is more of a war-time triage center, with oil on the ground like blood. Guts and parts are stacked by engines as they are taken apart and put back together, sewn up and sent back to the streets. It’s complete chaos to me.
But it’s home to this diverse array of car surgeons.
I don’t understand cars. I’m not interested in understanding cars, frankly. It takes a special sort of understanding to diagnose a problem, rip out the guts of an engine, fix said problem, and put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Sew her up. Drive her away.
That’s why I just paid this particular mechanic near my home a lot of money.
Like every other complicated vocation, auto mechanics understand basics so they can diagnose the complex. Engine problems are not always as they appear. The best mechanics can leverage their basic knowledge with experience to diagnose and fix real thorny problems.
The key is: they must know the basics.
Faith can be a similar puzzle.
It starts off simple. Just believe. Embrace what you know to be true. What’s been revealed.
But life as a human is not simple. Problems I. The realm of humanity are as thorny as it gets. Emotion and will and thought and action all work together as live, breath, and make choices. And that’s just you.
Then sonder happens.
Sonder is that moment you realize that every passerby has the same complicated internal life you do. Everyone has thoughts, feelings, emotions, a will, a schedule, hopes, dreams, anxiety, and other complicated humans they have to deal with.
Now the mechanic’s shop gets really messy. Oil and parts are everywhere.
How do we sort this out?
Faith gets complicated quickly.
Our society is getting more complicated by the day. Social structures are built up and torn down and built up again. Technology and entertainment and theology and politics further twist and spiral and intertwine. Some people choose poorly and hurt others. Wars rage. Racism and misogyny and hatred and all kinds of attitudes that are counter-Christian erupt. Then re-erupt.
Things that are counter-faith.
Faith is a difficult path to navigate in 2019. Maybe this is why some are leaving the path and heading out into a wild frontier of faithlessness. Agnostic desperation. How can we know? How do we figure this one out? We can’t. Something must be wrong. We throw up our hands in despair and leave the parts all over the garage floor. Oil and lug nuts and all.
The best way back is going to the basics.
The Christian life is Jesus being the Way. He is the truth. He is life. That’s how we know. He’s the baseline for everything else.
Including the things we don’t understand and can’t possibly know or figure out.
Faith is a journey of increasing complexity.
Yet the way is always simple. Always the same.
Jesus is the way. He calls us to follow him.