Driving Like Hell (or H.W.J.D.?)

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil 2.3-4).

H.W.J.D.?  How would Jesus drive?  Obviously, there were no cars in first-century Palestine so the question is anachronistic.  But there was no internet, birth control, IEDs or aircraft, either.  And the church rightly believes biblical, Christ-centered principles govern those areas.  Therefore, those same principles govern the road as well.

God-exhaled Scripture speaks to any area needing teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3.16).  It equips the man of God for every good work (v17) wherever the man of God might find himself.  These days that is often in traffic and the Christian should consider his/her driving a piece of “every good work.”

There are more important questions, to be sure.  But perhaps this question – how do Christians drive? – is part of the larger question: how do Christians work out their salvation fearfully according to God’s pleasure (Phil 2.12-13)?  Will the gospel reach into every nook and cranny of our lives, influencing not just our Sunday morning veneer but also our Monday morning commute?  Sharing this world means sharing the roads.  Will Christ’s humility, servanthood and patience govern how (or if!) we share it?  Among other things, driving is a way we serve others so how we drive reflects how well we love.  In the end, how we drive Monday morning might well expose who we hid on Sunday morning.  H.W.J.D.?

If you were to gauge my salvation on how I drive you would find little evidence of saving faith.  I drive like hell.  I don’t necessarily drive recklessly but I do drive rebelliously.  And that rebellion is simply the outward display of inward sin and immaturity.  I may not drive illegally but I do drive intemperately, and God’s tickets are far more costly.

So I want to drive like Jesus and that means far more than following the rules of the road.  It means following the rules of love.  Here are some areas I must consider and perhaps you might benefit as well.

1.  Christians should not speed.  Snickers and jokes aside, is our driving an exception to our biblical responsibility of submission to our governing authorities (Rom 13.1)?  Speed limits are for our own public safety.  Christians do not want to intentionally endanger anyone because we love them.

Perhaps we can drive faster than most with awareness and safety.  But we do not want to encourage relativistic interpretations of law.  We do not want others doing whatever they feel is right and allowable for them.  Therefore, we do not assume ourselves the arbiters of what is the right speed for us.  Habitual speeding assumes I know what is best for me and will do it regardless of those with whom I share the road.

Maybe there is a “7 mph” grace zone on the interstate.  While not suggesting anyone has lost their salvation for doing so (thankfully!), would we apply the same latitude in other matters of law, sin or public morality?  Christians should not.  We do not massage our conscience so that we stretch the law.

Again, I do not suggest there are never reasons to speed.  Emergencies and public safety might require it on occasion.  But we must not abandon the principle because of potential exceptions.

Doing the speed limit is a way Christians serve others and show they love God’s authority (Rom 13.1).

2.  Christians should not tailgate.  It is the height of hypocritical wickedness to assume my tailgating you is necessary but you tailgating me is endangerment.  I am justified when I do it to you, but you are an idiot when you do it to me.

Tailgating is practically ridiculous but eternally perilous.  Tailgating is simply the outworking of pride.  I am righter than you.  What I do to you is right but you do to me is wrong.  Tailgating is the assumption my sin is less sinful (if at all) than your sin.  My getting where I am going is more important that you getting where you’re going.  It is self-justification.

Tailgating endangers others and Christians do not intentionally endanger others because we love them.  Jesus said we treat others like we want to be treated (Lk 6.31).  I do not know anyone who likes someone riding their bumper.  Therefore, the gospel demands I do not do so to them.

3.  Christians should let others into traffic.  I love sticking it to “that guy.”  You know “that guy” guy who needs a lesson.  That guy who rode the shoulder to the front of the line.  He will not get in front of me.  He should’ve merged a half-mile back.  So we practically latch onto the bumper in front of us, eliminating a sliver’s chance he might inch in on our watch.  We’ll teach him all right.  He should be thankful he has us to do so.

Jesus is kind to ungrateful men (Lk 6.35).  Ungrateful men like me.  Just let the guy in and God will sort him out in the end.

4.  Christians drive thankfully.  If someone lets you in traffic then make sure you express thankfulness.  Do not assume you deserved to be let in.  Don’t just throw up a token hand wave.  Roll down your window and really thank them.  The world could use more gratitude, and that from fish-bumpered Christians.

5.  Christians do not demand thanks.  Amy will tell you.  I am no more wicked than when having graciously and regally allowed someone in front of me I will expect immediate acknowledgement of gratitude.  I will honk my horn or otherwise somehow demand to be thanked.  I wish I could say I have not done this in a church parking lot after a church service.  I know.  It’s satanic.

Jesus taught us to give without expecting anything return (Lk 6.30).  Be glad to open up a space for someone and thank God for the privilege of serving others in love.

6.  Christians wear their seatbelts.  It’s safe and safety is an expression of our love.  It’s the law and Christians obey the law.  We tell our children to do it and we would never hypocritically expect our children to do something we do not first model ourselves.

7.  Christians should park in deference to others.  Christians love and serve others.  That means we resist the urge to invade that perfect parking place like we are storming Normandy.  Especially when gather at our church building, we leave the closest spaces for the elderly, injured, the pregnant and umbrella-less.  We love them and want to bless them so we will do the walking as much as possible.  The perfect parking place is the one left for another to enjoy.

8.  Christians are not angry people.  Scripture teaches us Christians “put away” anger (Col 3.8).  If being cutoff in traffic or skirting someone who did not use their turn signal enrages you, then there is a far more insidious problem than your commute.  I can be singing along to hymns or praying in silence when “that idiot” swerves into my lane.  In a nanosecond I go from worshiping God to cursing my neighbor.  James had something very specific to say about that:

But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;  from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.  Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?  Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh (Jas 3.8-12).

My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.  Christians are self-controlled people so keep it together, for Christ’s sake.

9.  Christians are patient people.  Patience is one of the remarkable evidences of saving grace (Gal 5.22).  It proves we have the indwelling Spirit of Christ.  Repent from impatient driving and enjoy God’s forgiveness. Then leave earlier and drive slower.  The world, and therefore the road, does not revolve around you and how easily or quickly you make it to your destination.

The DMV rightly instructs us to drive defensively.  Brothers and sisters in Christ instruct one another to drive Christianly.  How would Jesus drive?  It’s a more important question that what he would drive.  Since he did everything – everything – out of his love for God and others, we can be sure he would drive in love.

If that is you in front of me, please be patient and forgive.  But remember I still own the road.  You should thank me.  Now.

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