Unfortunately, the young man followed the salesman's instructions to the letter, not pausing to check the instructions. Which means he missed the part about putting in both gas and motor oil before operating his new machine. As a result, the engine soon seized up and died. And not surprisingly, the dealership refused to replace the mower, insisting quite rightly that the young man should have read the operator manual.
It was a costly mistake. But what’s really sad is that the young man apparently did not learn his lesson about the importance of reading the directions; he recently told a mutual friend that he was definitely heaven-bound, because he’d been following his priest’s instructions almost perfectly.
It seems that this young man didn’t feel the need to consult our Manufacturer’s instructions personally. Once again, he’d chosen to rely on the word of a middleman.
Sadly, he’s far from alone. According to Christian researcher Barna, today only about one-third of Americans say they crack open their Bibles at least once a week. And even among the well-churched, many let a minister, pastor or priest tell them what God has said instead of doing their own research. As a result, far too many are missing the most important part of all – the part about how to become irrevocably heaven-bound.
I talk to such trusting souls all the time, especially among the elderly who’ve spent their entire lives following man-made instructions as faithfully as humanly possible.
“I sure hope so,” they say when asked if they’re sure they’re going to heaven. The reason? Almost invariably, it’s some variation on “I’ve tried to live a good life.” Often, they proceed to list all the things they’ve done, from going to church and performing the requisite sacraments to saying their prayers and doing lots of good deeds.
Alas, these people remain ignorant of what’s arguably the Bible’s most important message: Eternal life is not a reward for a life well-lived. It is God’s free gift to all who repent and trust in Jesus Christ to have paid the penalty for their sins.
In the end, the cost of ignoring the directions will depend on what’s at stake. Blowing up a lawn mower will set you back hundreds of dollars. But that’s nothing compared to the everlasting tragedy of ignoring the word of God.
Bottom line? Begin studying the Bible now, before it's too late – and encourage your friends and loved ones to join you!