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FIRST-PERSON: A tune-up or an overhaul?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP) - One of the things I remember about my dad was his uncanny ability to diagnose what was wrong with an automobile. When I was a teen, he owned and operated his own garage where he serviced cars, trucks and just about anything with four wheels.

In the days before computers and electronic diagnostic devices, he would listen to the engine, ask a few key questions, and listen carefully to the owners' responses. Then, he would share his opinion about the needed service or repair. I must admit I did not learn much from my dad about cars, but I did learn the difference between a tune-up and an overhaul. A tune-up was relatively quick and inexpensive, requiring just a few hours of work without taking too big a bite out of the pocketbook. An overhaul was another matter altogether, and usually required leaving the car for a day or two, while the engine was taken apart, parts replaced and the engine reassembled. No one wanted to hear that diagnosis.

When it comes to following Christ, I've discovered most of us tend to settle for a tune-up, when what we really need is an overhaul. We think following Jesus is something we can add into the mix of our lives without too much of an adjustment in our routines. We don't mind Jesus making a few minor changes or variations. We are OK with a little "touch-up" work and a few minor alterations here and there.

However, according to the New Testament, following Jesus requires much more than a few adjustments or changes. It requires an overhaul -- a transformation. A tune-up cannot fix the brokenness deep within each and every one of us. Only a complete transformation, a divine intervention, by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can reach deep within us to heal our hearts, and save our souls. In other words, becoming a follower of Jesus is much more like an overhaul than a tune-up.


The "tune-up mentality" however, is seen everywhere in the American Christian culture. Like everything else in our world, we want it fast, and we want it now. Even in some religious groups and some churches, following Jesus has been reduced to an invitation to "pray a prayer" and let "Jesus come into your heart." Yes, becoming a follower of Jesus does start with a prayer, but it's a prayer of repentance and forgiveness, preceded by a deep conviction of sin and a heartfelt confession. And, yes, Jesus does come into our hearts and lives, but when He does, He brings life-changing transformation, an overhaul so radical that Jesus referred to the experience as being "born again" (John 3:3). Paul said, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

I don't know about you, but before I became a follower of Jesus, I needed an overhaul in my life. The interesting thing about experiencing total transformation is that you will never settle for just a tune-up again. As a follower of Jesus, we constantly surrender to Him, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us to produce the Christlikeness we could never manufacture on our own. Paul, the Apostle said it this way:

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:1-2.


If all you want out of your church or religious experience is a tune-up, just about any kind of religious experience or adjustment will do. You will get just what you are looking for. If, on the other hand, you are desperate for a total transformation, an overhaul, a completely new start, an extreme makeover, then a total surrender to Jesus is for you.

I urge you: Don't settle for a tune-up when you could get an overhaul.

Larry Doyle is director of missions of the Piedmont Baptist Association in North Carolina.

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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