GODLY DRIVING

You will no doubt be aware of Matthew 7:12. It’s concept of ‘doing unto others as you would have them do unto you’ has so permeated the culture that even atheists refer to it as the ‘golden rule’. Admittedly they do so largely to make the point that the idea exists outside of the Bible… plus which they get it wrong because the ‘golden rule’ would actually be that which Jesus gives immediately beforehand – to honour God with our heart, soul and mind – but the point nonetheless remains; it’s big, famous and hugely important, encapsulating much of God’s holy law within its simple instruction. However, it’s also ridiculously tricky to put into practise; and never more so than when behind the wheel…

You see I am a different person when driving. Negotiating London’s congested, pot-hole riddled roads I seethe with barely contained rage. My competitive nature threatens to overwhelm me as all existence becomes boiled down to a race to make it through Mitcham’s one-way system without being overtaken. Hate I would withhold from society’s worst criminal sand blasphemers I focus entirely upon those who would use right-turning outside lanes to jump the queue, or those who would gain advantage by shooting the long-since red light. In short, there’s a lot of sin going on in my daily commute. It has been eased somewhat by this year’s habit of listening to MP3 sermons en route. After all, can you actually swear at the granny straddling two lanes before you at the same time as listening to RC Sproul explaining the Book of James? Quite possibly, but it lessens the likelihood…

Anyway, to return to my theme, I have recently realised the challenge of applying Jesus’ teaching to this area of my life. I doubt I’m the only bloke among my congregation with work to do here! Because, if we are serious about honouring God we need to consider the implications of those words above. What would we have others to unto us as we drive in the rush hour? I’ll tell you – we would have them let us out of a side road into heavy traffic. We would have them play fair and honour the rules of the road. We’d have them give us space when two lanes merge. We’d have them let us out at the roundabout and through when there are parked cars on either side. We’d then have them graciously smile as we acknowledge them for doing so. So what, then, should we do? Well, I told you it was a challenge!

Now, let me add, for those fearing a threat to their love of competition, it is fine to want to beat people. After all, in sport we would have others, unto us, try their hardest, give it their all, and take the potential outcome to heart. And so then shall we. It’s just that the roads aren’t really the place for pursuing such aims. I was particularly struck by a radio piece last week in which the caller introduced a phrase; ‘the shamefulness of speeding’. That is as it should be – not just because it breaks the law (and that’s enough), but because of the harm you could do to lives and families if going too fast in a built up area (I’m not sure I’d apply it to motorways, but one thing at a time!). So, I will try to drive as Jesus would have me do… It will be tough. It will be counter-cultural. It is important. Make sure you hold me to account if I give you a lift!

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