To watch the restoration of an antique motorcycle is a thing of beauty. The artisan – I think it’s fair to call him or her that – looks upon the machine in its current state and begins the process by breaking it down. All of the ancient and dirty fluids are drained, the electrical system disconnected and then, one by one, each of the parts is dismantled and catalogued all the way down to the frame. Once broken down, the restorer can evaluate the unique set of steps and processes that will be necessary to restore the motorcycle to its original condition. The frame is cleaned and painted, the saddle sent out to be reupholstered, new electrical components and wiring are located and ordered and with painstaking care the bike is brought back to life. When the days or months or even years have passed and the project is deemed complete the restorer tops off the oil, checks the ignition connections once again and add some fresh gasoline to the tank. Throwing a leg over the saddle and pulling the clutch handle, he kicks the starter – once, twice and then the motorcycle roars to life.
Only to be sold at auction, to have the gasoline drained from its tank and to be put on display and never ridden again.
But this is not what motorcycles were made for. Nor were classic cars or rare guitars. They have a purpose and they were designed for that purpose. No matter how rare or valuable, to hide, the guitar or car or motorcycle away for “safekeeping” is to deny that purpose. In the world is a lesser place for a because no one will get to have a chance encounter with that 57 Nomad or hear their favorite song played on that 62 Les Paul. Sure, there’s a risk that the motorcycle might be an accident or that the guitar might be dropped but they would do so while serving their designed purpose.
Pastor John Ortberg cleverly use this metaphor to emphasize the point of God’s restoration of his people. God has evaluated each of us as he found us and as we were redeemed, he began the unique process of dismantling and draining and rebuilding each of our lives. Like the Triumph TT 650 that serves as his example, Pastor Ortberg emphasizes that we to were designed and built and restored for a purpose. Not to be put on display as Christ’s collection in safe little sanctuaries, but to live and serve and love. And to do so boldly, perhaps even risking loss and pain along the way.
Jesus spoke of his mission as it approached its end, teaching those that would listen that they too had a purpose similar to his:
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:34-36
Taking up your cross almost certainly comes at the cost, but that’s what you were designed for. Following Christ is not without risk, but that’s why God has so lovingly pieced your life back together. Even if one of us should lose his life in the pursuit of sharing the gospel and serving and bringing the hope that we have two other people, that’s precisely what were made for.