In the teaching of our “Biblical Life Management” class here at the Union Gospel Mission of Salem, I often begin with the “new car” analogy. I ask the class to imagine they had just bought a brand new car. I ask them what they need to do to assure that the new car remains in excellent working condition. Universally, the answer comes back, “maintenance.”
I then point out that, while we all intuitively know that maintenance is required to keep the car running great, we do not know intuitively how to maintain the car. For that, we must learn from an outside source. I further point out that the best place to learn how to maintain something is from its designer, in the item’s owner’s manual.
A car is designed to function a very specific way and requires upkeep in a way that fits the unique design. If we misunderstand the design, we can misunderstand how to take care of the car. Most often, when people misunderstand the inner workings of the internal-combustion engine, they neglect the vehicle fluids (oil, water, etc.).
Over time, this neglect slowly erodes the car’s performance. Eventually, the car coughs, sputters and dies on the edge of the road. That is what happens when you do not learn about its design.
This simple little illustration is an analogy for life. We were given a life with no understanding of how to maintain the life. Our parents were to help orient us as to how this life works. When parents model and pass-on misinformation, the life can begin to cough and sputter. Sadly, this is the case for nearly all who come our way.
Here at Union Gospel Mission of Salem, we are convinced that our life was made by Someone. Additionally, He made life in such a way that it works best when we follow the guidelines provided through the owner’s manual (The Bible). If we disregard the owner’s manual, we end up guessing at how we ought to live. If we guess wrong, the result will be eroded performance and will eventually lead to a stalled life.
For those who enter our doors, life has stalled. We then begin the repairs, rebuilding the inner-person worn down by years of neglect. We do not preach morality per se. We explain that the guiding principles of Scripture are the Manufacturer’s way of telling us how we are made and therefore how we function best.
Life after life, we watch men and women leave the mission with rebuilt lives. Just as important, they leave with a new toolbox, able to do the maintenance needed to keep their new lives in good repair. Moreover, they leave with a closer relationship with the Designer/Manufacturer where they can receive ongoing guidance to assure they are living out of their design.