Thursday, December 18, 2014

Driving Like One Who Belongs to Jesus Christ

Christians in America, even the zealous ones, are good at compartmentalizing different parts of their lives as either spiritual or unspiritual. I know, because I have a tendency to do so in my mind, when I do not crucify the old man. Then we also have the bent toward calling many areas of life neutral, as if God had nothing to say on the subject or any preference on how we approach certain situations. But nothing in life is neutral. In fact, "every idle word that men speak, they shall give account thereof on the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36).

And if every idle word we speak is important, how much more, every action, and every decision? God cares about every detail of our lives; every minute detail should glorify him. We will talk another day about the every day decisions we make, such as the purchases we make. But I want to focus specifically on driving. And no, I am not here to tell you that if you don't obey the speed limit and every minor traffic law, that you are sinning against God. But there is a Christ-honoring way to drive, and a way to drive that does not honor Christ.

I do not believe that anything I say here will be new to most of you, but I want to stir up your minds by way of remembrance (2Peter 3:1). That, and consolidate the Christian principles that you may or may not apply daily to other venues of life, and make them specific to driving.

Basic Christian principles apply to driving:

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." -- Philippians 2:3,4

"But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.

Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." -- Luke 6:27-31

These two passages of scripture would, if obeyed, eliminate a whole lot of traffic accidents, and also make driving a whole lot easier and pleasant. Have you ever been down south, in the small towns where there are still remnants of Christ-like customs entrenched in the culture?

When we visited some friends in Lee County Virginia about a year ago, we were sort of stunned when we drove places. Living in Northeast Ohio, we have an expectation when driving, that people are going to be absolute jerks and selfish, with a few exceptions. Folks where we live have an every man for himself attitude or, at the very best, have an attitude of "if he does good to me, then I will do good to him". You might be fooled by many people if you interact with them daily, but put them on the road and the anonymity of the situation reveals their true nature, just as the Internet does for anonymous comment posters.

But down in Southwest Virginia, every driver, literally, put others first. At a four-way stop, everyone volunteers to go last. People will not cut you off, or ride your tail, or get angry if you drive slow. In fact, the majority of the people drove slow themselves. And this was just fine with me, because the longer I have been a Christian, the more I drive like these Southerners. What is the big hurry? I am convinced that 90 % + of car accidents would be avoided if people did not make every time in the car a big race against time. And what better way to love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18) than to create an environment (by your driving) where you have the least chance of hurting them? How about we drive with the words of Jesus in mind, "But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first (Matthew 19:30)?

Furthermore, a Christian should drive undistracted and cautiously; giving plenty of space between himself and the vehicle in front of him. Yes, and a lot of things you probably were told in driving school to do, you should do. But the fact that we jest and mock these things are abhorrent to the LORD. "Fools make a mock at sin" (Proverbs 14:9). And no, I am not saying that not doing everything you were told in driving school is a sin. Grasp the spirit of what I am saying. Driving a 2 or 3 ton machine down the road that has killed its ten thousands is not something to be taken lightly.

Do I make a complete and utter stop at every stop sign or stop light? No. Do I obey every speed limit that is posted? Of course not. There are posted speed limits that are unreasonably low. I drive through a few like this in my area and I go a little bit above the speed limit. But on the highway I am generally driving 55-60 mph, even when the speed limit is 70mph. And I discipline my time enough that I typically do not need to drive faster than that. You can avoid accidents, that even though would be the other driver's "fault", are nevertheless, avoided and both parties are safe. Many times it takes two careless drivers to cause an accident.

Perhaps best of all, when you drive slowly and carefully, you do not have to spend your driving time on the lookout for a police officer, and do not have to slow down when you see one with his radar gun on the highway. You can just relax and focus on the Lord Jesus.

 This final scripture notation is fitting for our attitude in driving, and in all of life:

"He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." -- John 12:25

 Die to your self and see eternal life, which is Jesus Christ, flow through you.

Swiss Kinist


  1. Interesting you mention southern driving. I lived in one small town in AR where it was common courtesy (almost rude not to!) to flip a wave at every single vehicle that drove by. At least a little finger or two off of the steering wheel. I got accustomed to this and assimilated accordingly and carried it back with me to the city. My dad enjoyed pointing out this eccentricity when I drove him somewhere.

    I ended up relocating to a slightly larger town next to the one where everyone waved. Although this current town is at about 55% diversity thus the trust and sense of community has broken down accordingly. There are no more finger flicks or all out waves a mere 25 miles away. Just too high a percentage chance that you'll be greeting someone who is completely alien to your values and might be outright hostile to you just because you're one of those leave it to beaver crackers waving at everyone.

  2. Great story. Just a slight remnant of the great culture that was once part of all the ways of the South.