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I suppose I might as well confess. I haven’t always done a good job of maintaining my cars. One vehicle in particular comes to mind, a small red station wagon that I really liked. Liking a car and liking to work on it are not the same thing, however, and changing oil ranked high on the list of things I didn’t like to do. As a result, that poor car went a lot more than the normal 3,000 miles between oil changes

It’s to my shame that there was a very obvious solution to the car care problem. A shop in a nearby town specialized in quick oil changes. The people there could change oil and do other routine maintenance in only ten minutes. Their fees were easily within my budget. With their help, the car would have been well maintained and might have lasted longer than it did. Using the services of this particular shop was a “no-brainer,” but I chose to stay away from the place.

That shop specialized in a brand of oil my friends said was a poor choice. I wasn’t going to compromise by letting those people fill my car with inferior oil. So I drove around with dirty, engine-damaging oil rather than stooping to use an imperfect product.

I still remember driving away and leaving that little red wagon in the junkyard. It didn’t feel good. While I’m not sure my neglect is what put the car in the trash heap, the sloppy maintenance hardly helped prevent that sad day.

Car picture

There are bigger opportunities for negligence than one’s car, however. In fact, I’m thinking of something far more important and even more personal.

Over the years, I’ve known many Christians who became disillusioned with the church they were in or who moved to a community that lacked a familiar church. You’ve probably known people in such situations and may have experienced similar feelings yourself.

Far too many people respond to this sort of difficulty by choosing to stay home on Sunday. Oh, sure, they might spend some quality time with their Bibles, but they don’t go to church. For Bible teaching and Christian music they hear the recorded voices of strangers. Their Christian neighbors don’t get a chance to encourage them against temptation. No fellow believers are around to provide a reality check when some high-powered speaker presents a marginal doctrine on TV or audiotape. In short, these people aren’t keeping up with their own spiritual maintenance.

Their reasons are all too familiar to a guy who wouldn’t get his motor oil changed. The churches available belong to the wrong denominations. The local churches allow sinful people to come. Some churches don’t follow a particular Bible passage carefully enough. Some churches aren’t conservative enough. Others are too conservative. Maybe the available churches just don’t feel like home. I don’t know all the excuses, but basically it boils down to the idea that it is better to neglect one’s soul than to fellowship with imperfect Christians.

People who care more about the brand of oil available than they do about keeping their cars in good condition wind up dealing with junkyards. People who care more about the “brand” of church available than they do about feeding their souls wind up in poor spiritual condition. It is true we need to avoid churches that don’t believe the facts about Jesus Christ or that teach we must earn our own salvation. But those aren’t the issues that keep most stay-at-home evangelicals at home. Rather, it’s the notion that the exact style of one’s worship or the fine points of one’s theology are as important as basic Christian experience. The instant a Christian lets such an attitude isolate him or her from regular involvement with a Bible-believing church is the instant the wear and tear of an inadequately lubricated soul begin to take their toll.

Don’t let your desire for a perfect church turn you into a spiritual basket case.

This work is in the pubic domain and may be copied and distributed freely.


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