The Gospel According to the Kelly Blue Book
Hi, and welcome once again to the August edition of the Chaplain’s Corner. Here it is almost football season again and, as I write, the last rain we had has long since evaporated. It’s gittin’ mighty dusty out there on those unpaved county roads – not a lot of point in washing the patrol car when you raise a dust cloud at 20 mph.
Way back when we lived in San Antonio, someone jokingly told me that I needed to take up golf so I’d have something to sap all of the joy out of my life. Lately I’ve been on-line used car shopping. I think it’s having the same effect. And since I once challenged my readers with giving me a topic and see if I couldn’t “find the sermon in there somewhere,” maybe I should challenge myself and see what I can find.
Where to start? Where to start? Well, what motivates a person to seek a new/new-to-me vehicle? I guess it’s at least partly dissatisfaction with the proverbial “status quo.” We’re tired of what we have or perceive that there’s something missing… a feeling that there’s something better to be had that’s just outside our vision/grasp (and price range). That’s we start in our quest to find God, too.
Once we have made up our minds to embark on this journey, we have to know where to look. One of the first things I did was to pull up the internet search engine and tried to remember the names of the car dealers in the area. Browsing the John Deere tractor or Ranger Boats websites wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to go. We find the same general thing holds in trying to find God. If you’re going to find Him you have to look where He can be found – in the Bible and in church.
The next thing I thought of was the infamous “Book Value.” There are two “books” in the car world: the NADA (National Automobile Dealer’s Association) and the Kelly Blue Book. Both present the information on new and used vehicles from slightly different viewpoints. I suppose a case could be made that they are, in a sense, roughly analogous to the Old and New Testaments – both detail God’s plans from different perspectives.
Both the NADA guides and the KBB give a “trade-in value” and a “retail value.” One vehicle, two values – one is what the dealer thinks it’s worth when he’s buying it from you; the other is what the dealer thinks it’s worth when he’s selling it to you. And there can be quite a disparity between the two, I’m finding out.
We humans are wont to look in the mirror when we’re all cleaned up in the morning and we see our “retail value” (and some of us think more highly of ourselves than we ought.) God looks at us and sees all our faults and everywhere we fall short of His expectations – or in other words, God sees our “trade-in value.”
These days, no one wants to do a vehicle transaction without a Carfax report. (www.carfax.com) If you’re not familiar with Carfax, it is (in theory at least) a complete accounting of a vehicle’s life history… when it was bought, registered, inspected, crashed, sold, etc. As I was thinking about it, I was reminded of an old gospel song I haven’t heard in years. It starts off:
Unlike the car’s report, the “history log” kept on each of us in Heaven can be cleared and we can start again with a clean slate.
For several years now I’ve noticed a number of dealers will post a “no hassle” price. That means they’ve set a price and there is no negotiation: a “take-it-or-leave-it deal.” The Christian Gospel is a “take-it-or-leave-it” proposition. God set the rules and there is no negotiating room. The Bible describes a time that’s coming when people will try to bargain their way into Heaven and God will reject all “offers.”
Then there’s the “Limited Time Offer.” Maybe they don’t do it anymore, but I can remember when I was a kid sitting in the salesman’s office with my Dad, or floating around loose in the showroom and hearing the salesman say “This price is only good for tonight. If you leave, I can’t get you the same price tomorrow.” Yeah. Right. What changes in 24 hours that changes the price? But in God’s plan His offer of grace and forgiveness IS for a limited time. We have only as long as we draw breath to accept His offer of eternal life. As we in this profession know only too well, we can never know when that last breath will come.
Let me close with this and I’ll let you go. The other day I saw a brand new Dodge ¾-ton pickup on a trailer with a sign hanging from the mirror that said “Red Tag Price.” I’ve heard of sticker shock, but I got “red tag shock.” The on-sale price for that truck was $50,395. There is no way I could ever start to make payments on that thing. The only way I could own something like that is if it were given to me.
The Bible makes it clear that there is no way to earn or buy eternal life. The only way one can get it is if God gives it to you. The price is so high that only One Person could pay it, and His name is Jesus. What you have to do is “trade-in” your old life, and He will give you a new one.
So… I guess there was something in there after all, and I just skimmed the basic concepts. If you want to explore it further, feel free to drop me an email.
Blessings to you and yours and I’ll talk with you next “shift.”
Chaplain Bill firstname.lastname@example.org