When he finished that talk, a Pharisee asked him to dinner. He entered his house and sat right down at the table. The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash up before the meal. But the Master said to him, “I know you Pharisees burnish the surface of your cups and plates so they sparkle in the sun, but I also know your insides are maggoty with greed and secret evil. Stupid Pharisees! Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside? Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands.—Luke 11:37-41 (MSG)
A couple of weekends ago, Erika wanted to go get some maternity clothes. I said, “Can’t you just wear sweatpants like the other pregnant moms?” Five broken vases later, I relented and packed everybody into the van to go get some preggo pants.
Actually, I was kidding about the broken vases part. I’m pretty sure she threw shoes at me instead.
So I pulled up in front of the Motherhood store to let my wife out, because that’s what is expected of you when you take your pregnant wife there… you don’t just park and make her walk. She got out of the car just as somebody was coming up behind us, so I warned her to watch out before crossing.
That’s when things got ugly.
The guy passed me on the left and nearly ran her over… in front of the Motherhood store where pregnant women shop.
You might have thought that was kind of a low-class move, attempting a hit-and-run on someone with child, but in the guy’s defense, he did honk at my pregnant wife to let her know she was about to step out in front of oncoming death as he was speeding through the parking lot like a maniac.
I think she and I glanced at each other in disbelief before she Froggered the rest of the way to safety, lest an oncoming semi truck or crocodile come through and make some road pizza. I watched the guy’s car as he went on to a familiar corner of the parking lot, and then I thought, “This is too good to be true.”
With the kids in the back, I followed the guy across the parking lot to see if he was going where I thought. And I was right, and there in front of the Family Christian Store with my “In God We Trust” license plate, I gave him a good old staredown and asked him through both of our windshields what kind of maniac speeds through the parking lot on the way to the Christian book store.
And to confirm that my suspicion was right about him, I moved on and watched this retiree and his wife shuffle from their car into the Family Christian. That’s not at all stalkerish. I just did that for the sake of protecting my woman, right?
I won’t put a magnet with any type of church branding on my car. A church on the west side has done that, and while I won’t name names, I have dubbed them, “The Church of Offensive Driving”.
I won’t put a bumper sticker on my car about how God is my co-pilot or how the rapture will leave my car unmanned, because let’s face it, that’s just tacky.
I can’t even really hang with the “In God We Trust” license plate, which may indicate that you believe in the one true God, some kind of God out there or no God at all but you like the American flag. That’s about as vanilla of a profession of faith as you can get, and I even failed that one.
There is way too much responsibility that comes with those emblems and symbols for me and my driving habits, but the problem is that those external things should not be the only evidence of our faith in Jesus. And what’s worse is that even when we profess that faith, I think we still screw up. More people think of Christians as gay-bashers and right-wing whackos who hate everyone not like them than aligned with that sinless guy in the Bible who hung out with sinners, prostitutes, thieves, and other undesirable people who the church rejected 2000 years ago.
It starts with me… grace has to be my overriding reaction with everyone wherever I go and in whatever I do. Having the courage to speak the truth in love if you have to stalk a brother across the parking lot in front of the Christian book store. Realizing that if I’m ashamed to put a symbol on my car, it’s not the car’s fault for the way I drive.
What do you think about Christians putting symbols and bumper stickers on their cars?