The acid test of discipleship is driving. If you want to know how close you’re following Jesus just pay attention to the way you conduct yourself while behind the wheel.
Start with your language. Jesus said out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks. If someone were to listen to your vocabulary while cruising down I-94, what would they conclude about the content of your heart?
Forgiveness and judging others are next. That “forgive us as we forgive others” and “you’ll be judged by the same standard you use to judge others” stuff has no exemption for road rage.
And speaking of road rage, is your driving courteous and considerate of others, or is it aggressive? Do you let other drivers into your lane when they need to get over? When you see a “lane closed” sign, do you get over in a timely manner or do you try to cut to the front and jam up the traffic in the process? Are the speed limits just suggestions to you?
Closely related is the big “Thou shalt not kill.” As any number of theologians have correctly pointed out, the commandment forbidding murder also forbids any action that would do harm to the innocent.
Jesus saw it as applying even to malicious name calling. How much more does this apply to endangering the lives of others through the careless use of cars and trucks?
It’s easy to forget that a ton or more of metal traveling 35 to 70 mph (or more) can be a very dangerous thing if handled carelessly and/or improperly.
According to the National Safety Council, 40,000 people were killed in automobile accidents in 2018, and another 4.5 million were seriously injured.
So, do you drive while texting, applying make-up, or some other activity that takes your attention from the road?
Fatigue and tiredness are also potential killers. If you’re sleepy, pull off the road and take a quick snooze.
Then there’s the matter of drinking and driving, or driving while stoned. A college law professor of mine thought anyone arrested for drunk driving should get at least 20 years in prison. He said anyone who thought that harsh should sit with a family whose lives had been shattered by a drunk driver.
Knowing people who have lost loved ones in alcohol-related tragedies, I tend to agree with him. Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated isn’t just ill advised, it’s malicious. It is a clear violation of the Ten Commandments. It is sin.
Like I said, the acid test for discipleship is driving. Chances are, if you can maintain a genuine love for other people while driving, especially when the traffic gets heavy or somebody cuts you off, you can live the rest of your life in a remarkably Christ like manner.
Granted, it’s not easy, but the same Holy Spirit that is with you at home is also with you in your vehicle.
Put another way, Jesus is always your driving instructor. The only question is whether or not you’re listening.
Today’s Insights was written by the Rev. David Stout, pastor of Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ and Riverview Park Christian Church, both in St. Joseph. Insights is written by area clergy to give different viewpoints on a variety of topics. It is published each Saturday in cooperation with the Berrien County Association of Churches. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of member churches.