Jesus, Take the Wheel – the phrase was popularized by a 2005 song by Carrie Underwood. The implication of the statement is that our lives are car rides and that we should put Jesus in the driver’s seat. The meaning of this metaphor is clear. We should direct our lives based on God’s will and what he tells us through His Word and the Holy Spirit. That is wise instruction for all Believers. However, a different take on the comparison between car rides and our lives may also be helpful.
In many ways, we live our lives like we drive our cars, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Have you been driven to rage by a driver that cut you off in traffic? Have you changed a lane too abruptly to avoid missing your exit at the expense of other drivers? Have you ever berated another driver, whether they were in a position to hear you or not, over a bad action that you yourself commit on occasion? Have you ever taken your focus off the road to put it on your phone or some other distraction? It’s unlikely any driver can say he or she hasn’t done any of those things. If we’re honest, at some point, most of us have committed all of those actions.
Are any of those things so different from what we do in our daily lives? We are easily offended or angered by every perceived slight or violation from other people. We prioritize our own self-interests even to the degree that we may harm others. We are quick to preach to others about their sins even though we commit a host of our own, some of which are the very ones we were preaching against. We say we live for God but are quick to shift our focus from him to the distractions the world offers.
The parallels between our bad driving habits and bad living habits are clear, but the consequences for those bad actions are no less congruent. Everyone has heard stories of road rage, inconsiderate driving, and distracted drivers leading to accidents? These bad driving habits often cause us to commit traffic violations, and such violations can have fatal consequences. Is it any different in our lives? Don’t anger, lack of consideration for others, hypocrisy, and a lack of focus on God in our lives lead to problems that can drag our lives down? Those bad living habits can lead to sin or themselves are sinful, and what does the Bible say about sin? For the wages of sin is death…(Romans 6:23).
Ideally, we would all work to eliminate our bad driving habits and make the roads safer for everyone. However, we are all humans and humans make mistakes. Even when we exercise our best behavior, it’s still possible that we may do something wrong. With millions of people on the road controlling vehicles, it would be virtually impossible to eliminate all accidents, even the serious and deadly kind. That is part of the reason why Google and other companies are exploring vehicles that drive themselves. The idea is that at some point with advanced artificial intelligence (A.I.) in control of vehicles and an integrated network that connects all the vehicles on the road, the kind of mistakes that lead to deadly accidents would become a thing of the past. Imperfect human drivers would be replaced by a better more efficient option and some believe the roads would be safer for it. The analog to vehicle A.I. already exists in our lives in the form of the Holy Spirit.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. - Romans 8:11The Holy Spirit already exists within every Believer and can connect us on a deeper spiritual level. What if everyone in the world was led by God through the Holy Spirit? The sin that leads to death would disappear from this world and we’d all be better off.
The problem is that we don’t like giving up control. No matter how much data you present demonstrating that driverless vehicles are a safer, better option, there will be people who insist on driving themselves. Similarly, no matter how much God shows us that his way is the best way, we often still insist on doing things our own way. Here is the point where the two sides of this analogy diverge. Decades from now if technology evolves the way some believe it will and society adopts driverless vehicles as the standard, you won’t have a choice. If you want to be a part of society, you’ll have to accept the change. God doesn’t work like that though. He lets you choose. If you want complete control over your life without having to pay heed to anyone, you can have it. If you want to give God complete control and let him direct you where he wants you to go, you can also do that. The choice is yours. Will you let God take the wheel, or will you continue to drive yourself knowing that one day you may very well make that one big mistake that costs you everything?