What the Master Mechanic Taught Me of Unity

photo (c) courtesy Getty images
photo (c) courtesy Getty images

It seems everything I read lately of a spiritual/scriptural nature has to do with “unity”.

Romans 12:For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

1Corinthians 12: 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

…and it’s just been a real source of conviction for me lately, especially in light of the great article I read over the weekend by T.E. Hanna over at Of Dust & Kings (see yesterday’s post).

Like Hanna, I believe the metaphor of the master mechanic restoring a classic car and inviting his 5-year-old son to help is a perfect example of our relationship with our Father.

If we are honest, there is very little that child has to offer to the mechanic in the form of aid. In fact, it is far more likely that the son of the mechanic will mess things up than it is he will prove an asset. He grabs the wrong tools, bangs on the wrong parts, and gets distracted by the idea of playing in the street — which then forces the mechanic to stop everything he is doing in order to chase after him…Of course, the child’s assistance was never the point. The point was that, through a shared goal and communal mission, the father and son fostered their relationship and grew closer together as a result.

I see our actions as followers of Christ very similar to the actions of this five-year-old boy. And it really resonates with me as I take it the next step and imagine if the boy had a friend over who also was “invited” to help the master mechanic. Think of it from the mechanic/father’s point of view as he listens to his son tell his young friend all about the tools, the workings of the car, what to do, what not to do, and why…as if the five-year-old truly had any authority or knowledge of the father’s work at all.

What we’re invited into is not to take over and do the work of the Father, as if he needs our help. That’s not our job. That’s not the point. The tools, the car, the repair, was never the point. The time spent, the communal togetherness, the relationship that’s built—both with the mechanic/father and with each other—that’s the point. The feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment, simply by being in proximity to the father—learning but never mastering, participating but never replacing—that’s the point.

It breaks my heart when I overhear my son talking to his friends of things he has no idea, and is totally misrepresenting, simply to give the appearance of knowledge or superiority of a given subject. Why would I think my Father is any different when he listens to me espouse my beliefs, or the laws and tenets of my faith, onto an unsaved world as if I have any knowledge or superiority. That’s not the point. That’s not my job.

If my friend is interested in cars, wouldn’t it be enough to introduce him to my father who happens to be a master mechanic? He can ask his own questions. He can learn about the tools, the cars, the repairs, at his own pace. He doesn’t need me. What he wants, what he needs, is to spend time with my father. And I should, too—with my eyes and ears a little more open, and my mouth a little more shut. Maybe I’ll learn something.

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