The Value of Having “Shaky Tires”
Pastor’s Column 6th Sunday of Easter May 21, 2017
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of Truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. John 14:16-17
My grandfather was an executive with the BF Goodrich Company. When I bought my first (very used) car at age 18, it needed new tires, so he picked me up a set that he said was “just right for me” from a company store. Now this was right at the time that the national speed limit was reduced to 55 mph (what a time to get your first driver’s license!). Well, I soon found out why these tires were “just right for me.” They were slightly out of round, which meant that they rolled smoothly until I went over 55… then the car started to shake quite heavily! He had found a way to keep me at the speed limit!
Those tires are long gone, but I often think of them as a metaphor for a good conscience. Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit. If we are really listening to him, if we have a well-formed and an in-formed conscience, it will act like those shaky tires … an early warning system when we are about to exceed God’s speed limits, doing harm to our relationship with God, others and, ultimately, ourselves.
Once again Jesus invites us to examine our lives. Who or what forms my conscience? We have to be very careful because Jesus makes it clear that the spirit of the world is often opposed to the truth, whereas the Spirit of the Lord leads us to the Truth, if we can bear to hear it! Our conscience is like an internal gyroscope; if it is correctly calibrated, our decisions and actions will bear good fruit and be pleasing to God; if we need realignment, we will recognize this if our actions and decisions are bearing bad fruit in our lives and others.
Who or what forms my conscience? A well-formed conscience will consist of three pillars: Does this follow what Jesus has taught in the Scriptures? Does this follow Church teaching? Is this action an act of love toward God, neighbor and myself, or am I pursuing my-self, my will, my way? This last question can be the hardest to answer, because, left to ourselves, we often reach for things that offer only immediate satisfaction, pain relief, or the path of least resistance. A conscience guided by the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, will challenge us to grow, even though it is painful; to take the narrow road, even though it is not always the popular one; to love fully, even though it may cost us dearly. A properly informed conscience, thus guided by the Spirit of Truth, will ultimately lead us to peace, fruitfulness and joy in this life and the life to come!