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Sunday, July 26, 2015

No Christians at the Toll Gate

The well-known radio pastor is fond of saying, "If you knew me the way I know myself you wouldn't be so impressed. I'll tell you, sometimes when I'm driving, and somebody gets in my way, I don't feel so lovely".

Brothers and sisters -- can we talk? I mean, let's get down to where the rubber meets the road. What kind of Christian are you when you get behind the wheel? That really is a good litmus test of how faithful you are to living a life that exemplifies Christ -- especially when someone cuts you off on the turnpike. 

I live next to a school and, of course, there are special rules that apply when driving in a school zone. However, people don't abide by the rules, and there have been a number of accidents over the years outside my home. Screeching brakes and crumpling metal is not a pleasant sound. So, the city installed a three-way stop at my intersection. For six months I would gaze out my breakfast window and observe the traffic. No one obeyed the stop signs. Nobody stopped! At best they would slow-and-go, or simply drive through the intersection if they didn't spot a traffic cop. 

(Question: What sins do you commit when you think no one is watching, hmm?) 

As I have witnessed the hundreds of scofflaws who have contemptuously ignored the law, I've wondered how many of them are Christian ... and ... could this be a valid, statistical representation of the narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14)? 

This is what I'm thinking as I look out my window -- the hundreds who ignore the stop signs are going to hell, but the one who actually comes to a complete stop -- behind the line -- will enter heaven. 

Pedestrian fatalities (in my city) are one of the highest in the nation. The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) reports that 22% of traffic-related deaths involve pedestrians. 

In my town walkers, skateboarders and bicyclists are regarded by motorists as nothing more than orange cones on an obstacle course. Interviews gathered by police officers at accident scenes suggest that drivers simply did not see the person they struck, or they try to blame the victim who was hit. Police reports, however, reveal that most pedestrians are run over while they are legally crossing the street. The motorist was either distracted or exceeding the posted limit, and unable to react in time to avoid the incident. 

In full disclosure, I do not drive; and either walk or ride a bike to get from here to there. Frankly speaking, most drivers (I dare say all) have absolutely no regard for my life and safety. No one yields the right of way to me on the street or at a crosswalk. You might say motorists vs. pedestrians is typology of good vs. evil. (Tongue in cheek.)

Psst, here's a driver handbook refresher: When stopped at a corner, the motorist must yield the right of way to walkers crossing from either direction. But they never do. They always cut me off. One lady told a police officer, "Well, I just thought I could beat him through the crosswalk". This happens to me everyday, and it grieves my soul that some of these offenders must be Christian. 

I was nearly run over while legally riding my bike -- on the sidewalk! A motorist was trying to avoid a backup so he cut through a driveway, onto the sidewalk -- and he yelled at me to get out of his way. Cities that enforce sting operations compile some revealing statistics. Drivers who are stopped for violating pedestrian right of way are either antagonistic or ignorant of the law. In the first instance they are mad at being cited -- no one is sorry for breaking the law, but that they got caught -- and in the second instance they simply didn't know that the law required them to stop when someone was crossing the middle of the street. Really?! How, then, did they pass the driver's test? 

One sting operation -- where plainclothes officers acted as pedestrian decoys -- nabbed 72 violators in just over two hours. Do the math and you can see that this is a huge safety concern. It was expected that 15% of those caught -- in their defense -- would blame the undercover cops. 

Pop quiz: What does a yellow light mean? 

A. Slow down and prepare to stop. 

B. Hit the gas to beat the red light. 

In my town you can't cross some intersections before the light changes; and (according to the Department of Motor Vehicles) it behooves anyone on foot to not presume, under any circumstance, they have the right of way. Because even the state recognizes that the person cocooned within 2,000 pounds of steel has an attitude that you -- the pedestrian -- are just in the way. As one official said, "When it comes to pedestrians, motorists drive with intimidation. Their attitude is that it's up to you to get out of the way. Enforcement and education go a long way in making it safer for anyone on foot." 

The Good News in Jesus Christ is that there is no toll gate on the way to heaven. He paid the price so that all who would believe might enter. May you show your faith down here by exercising some caution and respect as you drive down the road of life. 

[Edit: I'm gazing out my window after writing this post, and no one is observing the stop signs. A police officer said that drivers know they are breaking the law, but they simply don't care other than hoping they don't get caught. It does reveal the self-centered nature of the human heart. The law doesn't apply to me. That's why Jesus Christ came to die upon the Cross.]

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