Maps Lead to Heaven, GPSs to (Ahem!)

CC BY-NC, ejorpin, Flickr
CC BY-NC, ejorpin, Flickr

A recent excursion reminded me of all the reasons I despise Global Positioning Systems (GPS). We pay tech companies for the convenience of GPS, not always for any intelligence in the device.

Why does a GPS tell me to take a bypass and then send me through the heart of downtown? Moreover, why when we’re somewhere off course do I have to irritably wait on those who only trust devices, although I follow signs well and can clearly see where to go? Maybe I should stop second-guessing myself. After all, we’ve lived a very long time with only maps, although many of us have never learned to read them.

My disgust includes online web mapping, too. Printed directions are the worst! Many of the step-by-step instructions are needless and actually set drivers up to make errors on the simplest journeys. Call it more hassle than help.

Perhaps your experience is different and GPS rivals the cellphone or internet for “Greatest Invention,” but I think good ole map reading works better most times. All one has to do is look a map over well, use a little common sense, and be at the destination in short order.

The Map of Truth

While I was off-course and stewing about these things, I reflected on how the same principle applies to faith. We have a map; it is the word of God. All we have to do is read it, do what it says, and be on our way.

Sometimes, however, we require for ourselves more than the essentials. Deep theology and philosophy convinces some of us that we’re walking our path the right way and are indeed headed the right direction. I don’t rail against higher theology because I was a graduate theology student, and I continue to deeply value and respect the intellectual aspects of Christian faith. Yet I was astonished at the scores of proponents and their absurd and utterly outlandish ideas about God and faith. You’d be amazed.

The problem is we have young people who feel they need an inordinate knowledge or seminary to live for God; and we find older folk who need to prove something with it. Good doctrine is incredibly important and learning it is essential to personal faith and wholesome churches. But the life of God we desire comes through Jesus Christ. He is the one essential.

And it’s right there—with Jesus—where the immaterial stuff falls to the ground. If the point was to live for God, so much of the fluff I read in seminary would not exist. Thus, the Holy Spirit prompts us to search our map, the scripture itself, and, like Pilgrim on his way to the Celestial City, be about the journey. “Just do what it tells you,” he says. “I’ll give more insight as you go.”

If we really mean to live for Jesus, we can be satisfied with the least that will help us reach him. I’d rather arrive at my destination using my map and feel pleasant than using the GPS and be angry and bitter, maybe even calling off the trip, for all the incongruous or excess information I’ve received. Likewise, there’s enough already in the scriptures to show us Christ and to start us living for him. Any other essential he will bring in due time.