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Image result for Car Trouble Imiges   Run It Any Way You Want

In J.I. Packer’s book, “Keeping the Commandments,” he begins with an analogy.

The analogy is probably known and used by many, but it is worth highlighting since . . . .

•  it is another example of the power of analogy
•  it deliberately provides a useful analogy for this week’s sermon
•  we can take the “analogical shell” and “run it out
•  after it is used, it becomes a short-cut argument*

Illustrative Analogy — by J. I. Packer:

 

“Cars are complex contraptions, and with their thousands of component parts much can go wrong. The maker’s handbook, however, tells you how to get from your car a satisfying performance, with minimum wear and tear, and if you mishandle it so that it goes wrong, you cannot say that you were not warned. With the wisdom contained in the repair manual that the manufacturers also issue, the car can be mended, but as long as you pooh-pooh the maker’s instructions, trouble is all you can expect.

Our cars are parables of their owners. We too are wonderfully made, complex physically and even more so psychologically and spiritually. For us, too, there is a maker’s handbook—namely, God’s summary of the way to live that we find in the Ten Commandments. Whether as persons we grow and blossom or shrink and wither, whether in character we become more like God or more like the devil, depends directly on whether we seek to live by what is in the Commandments or not. The rest of the Bible could be called God’s repair manual, since it spells out the gospel of grace that restores sin-damaged human nature. But it is the Commandments that crystallize the basic behavior pattern that brings satisfaction and contentment, and it is precisely for this way of living that God’s grace rescues and refits us.”

 

 

#1) Highlight Key Words & Phrases From (A):  You want to “pull-down” — from (A-known) to (B-unknown) — keywords & phrases.  You can write out the analogy (in this case, we are highlighting Packer’s words), and when you do, think ahead of what words-concepts-parallels you want to make in part (B).  You can also redo (A) as you work on (B) — adding other words and phrases.

Cars are complex contraptions, and with their thousands of component parts much can go wrong. The maker’s handbook, however, tells you how to get from your car a satisfying performance, with minimum wear and tear, and if you mishandle it so that it goes wrong, you cannot say that you were not warned. With the wisdom contained in the repair manual that the manufacturers also issue, the car can be mended, but as long as you pooh-pooh the maker’s instructions, trouble is all you can expect.

Some highlighted words are a different color because I can use a specific word outside of the phrasing — “Satisfying” & “performance” / wear & tear / repair & manual can all be used independently from each other in part (B).

 

#2) The Words Packer Pulls-down:  Notice the words which Packer pulled-down to part (B) of the analogy . . . .

Our cars are parables of their owners. We too are wonderfully made, complex physically and even more so psychologically and spiritually. For us, too, there is a maker’s handbook—namely, God’s summary of the way to live that we find in the Ten Commandments. Whether as persons we grow and blossom or shrink and wither, whether in character we become more like God or more like the devil, depends directly on whether we seek to live by what is in the Commandments or not. The rest of the Bible could be called God’s repair manual, since it spells out the gospel of grace that restores sin-damaged human nature. But it is the Commandments that crystallize the basic behavior pattern that brings satisfaction and contentment, and it is precisely for this way of living that God’s grace rescues and refits us.

The orange highlights are words that could be considered synonyms or related words to some of the words and phrases in (A).

restores: repair
damaged: wear and tear
rescues and refits: mended

 

Going Analytical:

#1) Notice how Packer did not use the same words and phrasing from (A) into (B), which would have given more continuity to the analogy.

#2) Also, Packer pulled-down very little from the (A) side of the analogy.  That is not right or wrong, but just an observation.

#3) You could also run the analogy out further than was done.**  Again, there is nothing wrong with doing that!  It is not that you can’t make the analogy simple and short for one’s own purposes.

Nevertheless, realize there may be additional value in “driving” the analogy by further developing part (A) and/or by pulling more down into part (B) — in order to . . . .

•  connect-relate with the audience’s experience
•  set up part (B) “better,” applicational, and/or more useful
•  make it more of an actual analogical illustration — rather than a short metaphor
•  not “leave GOOD money on the table

Let’s Run With It (while not ignoring what Packer brings to the analogy):

Cars used to be fairly simple.  At one time you had an engine, a transmission.  You changed the spark plugs yourself.  Set the points on the distributor, and changed the oil, filter, and air filter. Cars today are far more complex contraptions with thousands of components parts — not to mention an onboard computer.   A lot can go wrong these days and there is little room to get at this-or-that part

The manual is not a dozen pages, but hundreds of pages.  It fills up the bulk of the glove compartment — almost no room for gloves anymore.  A manufacture’s handbook is provided.  It is designed to give you what you need to know to make sure you have a satisfying experience.  That the car performs as it was intended by its engineers.  That you get long mileage out of it, with minimum wear and tear.

Now it is your car — and you can do what you want.  You do not need to listen to the manufacturer or its engineers.  Mishandle it is you want — don’t change the oil, red line the tachometer, leave your tires underinflated, squeal them on takeoff,  jam those brakes on, ignore the warning lights — but you were warned and given enough time, you will be in the repair shop.  You shouldn’t be surprised.  You should expect to find yourself in trouble sooner or later.  Hopefully, they will be able to repair it.  The mechanics have a manual to do that as well.

However consulting the automobile manual provided, knowing how the car is meant to operate, and regular maintenance is designed to keep you out of trouble, out of the repair shop.

(B)

Some may say that living for Jesus never was simple.  But there was a more simple time.  There were far fewer moving parts — life was a small community, a Christian consensus, a variety of churches but mostly Christian in doctrine, restful Sundays, a standard of decency in language, humor that was really just funny, television which was family friendly.

That simplicity was lost — we might differ as to when that was lost — but surely today it is lost —  with the world coming at us and our children through the digital world.  The family, life, living in this world is much more complex.  A lot can go wrong these days when it comes to raising children and personally navigating the Christian life.

However, we have been provided with a manual — and instructional manual which covers any and all situations.  The purpose of the manual is so you get the best out of living your life — too provide a satisfying and fulfilling life.  That is why it contains hndreds of pages, pages and sections about  . . . .

Now you can navigate life — drive your “car” anyway you want.  Especially in America.  You are free to ignore the manufacture’s manual. It’s your car — right!  Who is anyone to tell you how to live life.  You can disregard the warning lights of life.  Take off fast — squeal the tire, jam on the brakes — maybe in time.

Some people finally pick up the manual sometime in life when their life begins to makes strange sounds or it finally stalls or stops running.

 



 

* It can be used as a short-cut argument. You only need to say later on in the message or even at a later time with “the same audience” / or your children — “Run the ‘car’ any way you want.  It is your car.”

 

** Packer’s Third Paragraph:  Packer doesn’t pull anymore (A) down into the third paragraph.  That is why I said, “analogical shell.”  There is much more one can do in developing and using this analogy.  It has a lot more power packed into it that can be used.

 

Suppose someone says: “I try to take the Ten Commandments seriously and live by them, and they swamp me! Every day I fail somewhere. What am I to do?” The answer is: now that you know your own weakness and sin-fulness, turn to God, and to his Son Jesus Christ for pardon and power. Christ will bring you into a new kind of life, in which your heart’s deepest desire will be to go God’s way, and obedience will be burdensome no longer. That folk who take the law as their rule might find Christ the Savior as their Ruler is something to pray and work for.

2 Replies to “Analogy of the Day: It’s Your Car!”

  1. Sometimes it seems like the audience dictates how far you can run with an analogy and still hold on to the audience. I recently spoke to a group in the woods.Very rural and most do it yourself people (a bit like me). I could run on with analogies like this verses a more “professional” audience where they just brought their car in to be fixed, “don’t bother me with the details” type people.

    1. That is true! …you can wear out an audience with an analogy….TMI…..However, it does matter how you do it vocally, physically, and with good eye contact…so the audience knows it is going somewhere. Tony Evans…with his voice and style does it all the time and the audience catches on and drives it as well.

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