I was waiting at a stoplight one quiet morning, and I thought that I saw someone in one car wave an ongoing vehicle (which was signaling a left turn in front of him) through the intersection. Technically, the first car had the right of way, and where I live it is not customary (unlike certain other regions of the country) to let one car make a left turn before the straight-through traffic proceeds through the green light. Still, kind gestures like these continue to happen on the roadways, and I appreciate that we still have some civility and courtesy left.
That morning, though, I got to thinking about the difference between just taking it easy and letting someone else take a turn, versus exercising one’s rights and taking full advantage of what we feel entitled to. In my own driving, there are times when I am determined to get somewhere (often by a specific time). This might be the drive to work, going to an appointment, or trying to get to the movie theater in time to get popcorn before the show. In these situations, I’m more reluctant to wait on others (even though they might be in the same sort of hurry as I am), and I may begrudge giving other drivers their turn.
However, there are occasional days when I’m just enjoying the drive. Maybe my wife and I are going somewhere that doesn’t have a timed reservation, or maybe we’re just seeing the sights. I’m pretty sure that it’s easier for me to be generous and thoughtful when I’m not so focused on the task of getting from one place to another, and the steps required to do so.
As followers of Jesus, do we fall into the same trap: acting like those who are too focused on their own destination to stop and wait for others, in their respective journeys? Do we see the Christian walk here on earth as a series of steps that we must complete in order to “be good” (i.e., achieve sanctification), and get to Heaven [or in order to get into Heaven!] with God’s favor? Remember that Jesus described two people like this, as part of a parable in Luke 10:25-37. Here’s an excerpt, describing their actions when they saw an injured man on the road:
A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
Luke 10:31-32 NIV
In today’s world, could this look like the following?
- We become so focused on getting to church that we get distracted from why we’re going (and Who we are there to worship).
- We are so concerned about “getting people saved”, that we start telling them about Jesus before listening to where they are (and how Jesus can help them)?
- “Causes” or “pursuits” are such a big deal to us that we don’t have time to stop for other ministry and service opportunities?
To be clear, there’s no place for a lazy Christian. Time is short, and there are souls to be saved. However, I believe that we can become so busy with responsibilities and ministries that we steamroll right over the tug of the Holy Spirit on our hearts, as He guides us to someone who has a need.
Now, a “Sunday drive” can also be too casual. I’ve caught myself so lost in thought when driving that I miss an opportunity to extend courtesy to another driver. Even if our focus is not on hurrying to our destination, we must still be aware enough of our surroundings to see the opportunities that God places in (or near) our path. Consider Jesus’ reminder to His disciples (a little earlier in the same chapter as the passage above), which I’m pretty sure still applies to His followers today.
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
Luke 10:2-3 NIV
(See also Matthew 9:37-38),
So, instead of just “checking the boxes”, let someone in today: not only on the roadways, but also your circle of people that you serve in Jesus’ name. Be aware and alert to your surroundings, and remember that our destination – the Kingdom of God – starts here on earth.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.