Just a thought

I pulled out from a car park today and simply hadn’t seen another car pulling out a little way down the road, with right-of-way. It was no big deal, I waved ‘Sorry – thanks!’ and he waved back ‘you’re welcome’ and we drove on, smiling. I’ve no idea who he is and he has no idea who I am. Which is good, because nearly every bloke I know or have ever known, would feel obliged to make some remark about it the next time we meet. And I would then be obliged to step on his toe, poke him in the eye and push him over.

But it made me think: We are all idiots at some point in our driving lives. No matter how good you are at driving, whether you’re an Advanced Driver, or police trained or whatever, you will make mistakes. Everyone slips over the speed limit from time to time, or pulls out too slowly, or slams the brakes on too suddenly, or backs into a shopping trolley or… well, a hundred other misdemeanours are possible.

That’s why I have never been tempted to stick a fish symbol on my car. When one of those prangs, lurches or swerves occurs, why advertise to the whole world that the idiot behind the wheel is a Christian? Doesn’t the Gospel have a hard enough time getting heard without us chucking it in the mud and dancing on it?

And in much the same way, I’m a bit careful about how much and when, and at what volume, I lay emphasis on my faith. I know a lovely friendly lady who is full, full, FULL of ‘boasting in the Lord’ and it’s great to hear. It’s fab. She’s enthusiastic, and inclusive, and welcoming, and she shouts her faith from the rooftops wherever she goes. Her reputation goes before her. She grabs people in the street and invites them to church, which can be a bit bewildering but it’s well meant and warm. But listen, today she was in a bad mood, and she was complaining, short tempered, rude and dismissive. Everyone around her, everyone who has ever come into contact with her, knows her first and foremost as an evangelising, insistent, fired-up Christian, and today she managed to really upset everyone. Really upset them. Oops. We’ve all been there.

It’s all about balance (this blog is from the woman who keeps getting messages on her iPhone ‘Your walking steadiness is very low. You are in danger of falling.’) It’s always all about balance. Befriend and care first, bang on about the Gospel second. That way, when we snarl up – as we all do – our audience will see the person first, and not our faith and the God we follow.

The Apostle Paul talks a lot about boasting in God, but he uses the word in its ‘confession’ sense. (he boasts/confesses Christ) he boasts of the faithfulness of the church, or of his God, never boasting in the sense of elevating himself. His life is one of boasting – but I am not Paul, anointed as he is, living the life of an Apostle. I need to be careful that my life is in gear with my mouth. If I’m going to tell people about the love of Christ, I have to be ready to show it first. If I’m going to wear an ‘I’m a Christian’ badge on my car, I’d better not undertake on the motorway.

What good does it do to shout ‘Christ!’ in a crowded room? Or stick a poster in my window proclaiming ‘God came into the world to save sinners’? Who ever said shouting and block print achieve anything? There’s only one way to show people the love of `Christ… by showing them the love of Christ. When we are friends and spend time together, of course that’s when they will learn that all our motivation is Christian, just as we will learn what lights their fire, and gets them up in the morning.

If all they know me for is the clever way I can strong arm them, and march them into church, or harangue them about reality of sin, or promise them heaven if they take three simple steps, or hell if they don’t…. and if when they see me coming they inwardly sigh and hope to hurry past…. well, I might as well have a damn big fish on the back of my car as I mount the pavement and plough into every single one of them.

A footnote simply because I found this photo online, a poignant reminder of our history:

I wonder how many Christians have seen that, and felt encouraged, and found a warm welcome?

One thought on “Just a thought

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