Obedience: Cruise Control or Race Car?

An actual Bible Edition.
Two men's groups at our church are currently reading Jerry Bridges' helpful book, The Discipline of Grace. When discussing the need for obedience, Bridges illustrates two kinds of obedience: cruise control obedience and race-car obedience.


Most of us who are believers practice what I call a “cruise-control” approach to obedience. Many cars today have a convenient feature called cruise control. When you are driving on the highway you can accelerate to your desired speed push the cruise-control button, and take your foot from the accelerator pedal. Some mechanism attached to the engine will then maintain your desired speed, and you can ease back and relax a little…It’s very convenient and relatively relaxing. It’s a great feature on cars.

However, we tend to obey God in the same way. To continue the driving analogy, we press the accelerator pedal of obedience until we’ve brought out behavior up to a certain level or “speed.” The level of obedience is most often determined by the behavior standard of other Christians around us. We don’t want to lag behind them because we want to be as spiritual as they are. At the same time, we’re not eager to forge ahead of them because we wouldn’t want to be different. We want to just comfortably blend in with the level of obedience of those around us.

Once we have arrived at this comfortable level of obedience, we push the cruise-control button in our hearts, ease back, and relax. No watching the speed limits of God’s Word, no fatigue that comes from seeking Him with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind. Just cruising along at the speed people have set for us and not Jesus.


By contrast consider race-car drivers. They would never think of using cruise-control. They are not interested in blending in with the speed of those around them. They are not out for a Sunday afternoon drive. They want to win the race.

Race car drivers are totally focused on their driving. Their foot is always on the accelerator as they try to push their car to the outer limits of its mechanical ability and endurance. Their eye is always on the track as they press their own limits in negotiating the turns on the track as they watch for the hazards of the other cars around them. They are driving with all their heart, soul and mind.

To love God with all our heart and soul and mind means to obey Him with all our heart and soul and mind. In the words of Hebrews 12:14, it means to “make every effort…to be holy,” and in the words of Peter, to “make every effort” to add to our faith the various facets of Christian character (2 Peter 1:5-7).

The apostle Paul didn’t have cruise controls to use as illustrations, so he used the metaphor of a footrace.

    Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
2 Corinthians 9:24-27

God is not impressed with our worship on Sunday morning at church if we are practicing “cruise-control” obedience the rest of the week. You may sing with reverent zeal or great emotional ferver, but your worship is only as pleasing to God as the type of obedience that accompanies it.

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