Salt spray on the car

Pastoral Messages | January 11, 2018

I am persnickety about clean windows in my car. If you have a dog, I’ll probably spot you at a stoplight one of these days, and then I’ll start talking to myself about those nose prints and tongue impressions all over your car windows. If my wife is in the car with me, she’ll steer my attention away from your fogged up windows and onto the fabulousness of that cute dog of yours riding inside. That’s one of the reasons I married her.

A clean car window obsession is not a virtue in the winter. Maybe it’s never a virtue. Regardless, salt spray makes a quick mess of anyone’s priorities, but especially of perfectionists. It puts an ugly tint on the rear window in a matter of minutes. My sedan has no wiper and washer contraption like the front window. So, weeks can go by before I overcome enough personal sloth to step out into the cold and actually wash that rear window.

Two nights ago, I could barely see out the rear window, which makes lane changing very difficult. I was so focused on the rearview mirror that I almost got into an accident. Life is better now, but that’s mostly because I took the time to haul the gas station squeegee out of its muddy, blue solution.

Here’s what I want to say in theological reflection on this rear window of mine: The direction of the Bible – yes, that incredible Word that shapes our lives – is forward. It is inevitably and always forward. Its concern is the future. Just as the best way to get somewhere in a car is to look forward out the windshield, so the best way to read scripture is to lean into the future. When Jesus disappeared from the tomb, we’re told that he “went on ahead” of everybody, especially blindsiding those fixed on their rearview mirror.

Plenty of religion is loaded with nostalgia. It gets defined by the past. We describe our faith by what we remember most distinctively from childhood church experiences. Fundamentalism, at its worst, is a compulsion to retrieve and preserve the past, however imagined that past might be. If only we could recapture the past, this way of thinking goes, all would be well. But that’s foolishness. It doesn’t work to read the Bible that way any more than it works to drive that way. God’s word is living and active, waiting for us to do something with it.

So today, let’s understand faith as having a deep confidence in God’s future; not living in some imagined (even if memorable) past.

-Peter W. Marty, senior pastor

6 Comments on “Salt spray on the car”

  • Charlie Maahs

    January 12, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    As usual, top notch theological reflection, and brought to mind a Satchel Paige saying, “Don’t look back, somone might be gaining on you”!

  • Marci barnhart

    January 12, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Perfect as we look and move forward in a new year. Thank you Peter.

  • Deb Lamp

    January 12, 2018 at 8:10 am

    I love it, I read it over and over. It speaks so much to me

  • David DeWit

    January 11, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    Re-reading my comment above brings to mind the old saying: “The Bible is like a fiddle upon which any tune may be played.”

  • David DeWit

    January 11, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Tragically, various groups of Christians looking ahead through the “clean” windshield toward the future God has planned have strongly differing opinions of what that plan is – too often leading to divisiveness, judgmentalism, and even inter-group hatred. Of course, each group is 100% certain that its particular vision is the only correct one.

  • Heidi W.

    January 11, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    LOVE your analogy, Peter!

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