Paul writes to the Ephesians:
“I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord,
that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the
ignorance that is in them.” - Ephesians 4:17
Believers are to live life focusing on the truth and the reality of God. A believer needs to hold tight to the knowledge that God is the
creator and sustainer of our lives, that God is supreme and his wisdom surpasses our understanding, and that his standard of righteousness is absolute and unchanging throughout all generations.
A believer must live in this world - but never allow the things or the ways of the world to distract them from what is truly important. A good picture of this way of living is driving a car. When a person drives a car they stay focused on the road and what is going on around the car. The driver looks through the windshield, not at the windshield. A driver cannot look around inside the car for very long without having major problems outside the car.
So it is also in the life of the believer. A believer resides in the world but must focus on the big picture of life through the windshield of God’s revelation, which has been given to us in the Scriptures.
Paul says we must “no longer live as the Gentiles do”
- as those who have no view outside the windshield. They spend their entire lives trying to find direction and avoid accidents, but they never look outside the car. Their focus is exclusively on the interior of the car as they speed through life. They have no perspective of God, eternity, truth, or reality. Thus they live in “the futility of their thinking.” It is easy to understand why, though. They have never seen or believed anything else. It is as if they are driving at night with the dome light on and the headlights off.
This command from Paul is important to believers for a couple reasons. Although we have accepted the reality of God and have - at least for a moment - looked up through the windshield long enough to realize we are speeding through life on a very busy spiritual highway, we often continue to “live as the Gentiles do in the futility of their thinking.”
We, too, spend the majority of our lives focused on the inside of the car and not on the highway. We are not looking through the windshield at the more serious issues or at what is happening around us.
Paul urges us to live our lives while looking through the windshield as we make decisions and evaluations. In fact, doing this is so important that he adds he must “insist on it in the Lord.”
Still, the reality is that even sincere believers who obediently live their lives looking at God through the windshield will face occasional challenges. These times can be likened to something striking our windshield, causing it to shatter. A disaster, a situation, a trial unexpected and undeserved comes from outside the car. It hits our windshield then disappears, but leaves behind it a fragmented, shattered windshield filled with distracting lines and cracks. This presents a whole new challenge for the believer, who until now, has been looking through a clean and clear windshield at God.
Up until this point, the only challenge was deciding whether to look through the windshield or look around inside the car. But suddenly, there is a new challenge - one that forces the believer to either focus on the shattered windshield, or continue to look through the fragmented pieces of the windshield at God.
Or, another way to think of it, is that this new challenge forces us to realize - and to know by faith alone - that the shattering of the windshield has not changed anything outside the car. The only thing that has changed is our ability to see clearly, having lost the advantage of a crystal-clear windshield. A crack in the windshield does not mean there is also a crack in the kingdom of God. In fact, far from being a true representation of everything outside the car, a shattered windshield causes a distortion in our view of reality. A broken windshield is simply a distraction from the reality that still exists outside of your car - a reality that is so much bigger than your life. Do not allow a shattered windshield to pull your attention back inside the car, forcing you once again to live in the futility of your own thinking.