As of today I start on my fourth Prius. I turned in my 2005 model for a new car for my wife and took over her 2008 model. Both cars lasted over 150,000 miles before I traded them in on the next one. Today I traded in my 3rd Prius for a newer model. I traded in a 2015 model for a 2017 model.
All three models averaged around 44 miles per gallon of gasoline. However, one time my mileage started going down. There is a monitor display on the dash that indicates how many miles you are driving to the gallon. With curiosity I watched my 44 average to 42 then 40. When it got to 38 I grew concerned. When it got to 35 I took it to the shop.
One shop said that unless there was a light on the dash they couldn’t recommend what to do. They suggested it might be bad gasoline. I left that shop.
I knew I was supposed to replace the air filters but where I have my oil changed they usually tell me when I need to do that. On a hunch I went to an Auto Parts store and bought two air filters. When I lifted the hood and opened the cover of the air filter guess what? It was dirty; very dirty. There were also leaves under the windshield wiper housing that were blocking the air return vents. When I opened the inside cabin filter behind the glove box it was even dirtier and there were leaves there as well.
The filters did their jobs. Not only did they keep dirt out of my engine and cabin, when they did their job well enough the dashboard monitor display did its job by indicating something was not optimal. My mileage was going down!
As followers of Jesus, we have filters. We have outside and inside filters. The Holy Spirit is our filter that screens dirt from getting into our hearts and minds and spirits. The Holy Spirit can work through our fingers to change the channel, to hit the fast forward, to NOT click on a post. The Holy Spirit can be an inside filter that can slow us down from responding to a text or an email of a post before we are calmer and more objective, acting as a filter to keep clean what’s coming out of us as well.
The Word of God, written, spoken, memorized, and/or demonstrated can act as a warning when we need to take ourselves to the” shop.” We may not have warning lights, or computer screens that tell us when we are getting off track, but the Word of God we have heard or read or seen or memorized or had demonstrated for us can warn us when we are getting far afield.
I’m grateful for filters. I’m also grateful for monitors that remind me that when the filters need to be replaced. I’m also grateful for scheduled maintenance the routine of which helps me replace filters before they have done their job so well that they are so dirty that they can’t do their job and need a monitor to warn me that it’s time for them to be retired and replaced.
Every analogy can only go so far. We don’t replace the Holy Spirit. Through confession and mercy the dirt of our sins are taken away and the filter is ready to use again. We don’t replace the Word of God. It continues to help us monitor what we say and do and serve as a measure for our lives. There’s no substitute for regularly scheduled maintenance like worship and Bible Study groups and Fellowship dinners. Most importantly there’s no replacement either for replacement …. Filters.