The first car of my very-own was a 1956 Ford Delivery Special. What’s that, you may ask. Well, for one thing it was a three-door. Yes, three doors: one for the driver, one for the passenger, and one at the back of the wagon. It was like a station wagon, but instead of windows on the sides it was paneled like a commercial vehicle. Naturally, I tricked it up. The metal-flake green paint, black bucket seats (a rarity then), the padded steel-spoked steering wheel, and chrome custom wheels made it stand out.
But while these things made it distinct and cool, in other ways it was just a truck. The dashboard was all metal. It had no seatbelts and a three-speed manual transmission. It had hand-crank roll-up windows and worst of all… no power steering or brakes. It drove like a beast and, not in a good way. Imagine parallel parking!
As we approach the feast of Pentecost and recalling the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, my old Ford comes to mind as a fitting metaphor. In his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Collectively, they are like a snapshot of mature Christian faith. Unfortunately, many of us think of these fruits as spiritual goals to be achieved. Like a spiritual diet, it’s about will power. Well, that’s like driving my old Ford – all human effort. In fact, what Paul is trying to tell us is that if we are alive in Christ and his Spirit is at work in us those qualities will characterize our lives naturally. They are by-products of our faith, we don’t generate them by our own effort. Whew!
Just as power assisted steering and brakes support the function of modern vehicles, the Holy Spirit empowers us on our journey of faith. We simply cannot live a Christ-like life on our own steam. We need the Holy Spirit’s power to assist us. In this season of Pentecost join me in gratitude that God has given us the Spirit’s breath of life forever! And… may we never have to drive manually again.
Dr. John Simpson, Adult Faith and Family Ministry