I am a person who will read bumper stickers. Pretty much whatever is ahead of me, I’ll look. I will admit that I have been known to even position myself in traffic, if one catches my eye that looks interesting, in order to be behind the person at the traffic light. Maybe it is the reader in me, that is compelled to consume words. Or, perhaps, it could be simply my humor seeking out something to make me chuckle. Occasionally, I shake my head for wasted time. Then there are the times, my jaw will drop and I hope that none of my children we reading along with me. To this day, I don’t believe my children know that I am reading bumper stickers at traffic lights. I do try to keep my crazy under wraps, as much as possible.
There is one pet peeve I have, in regards to bumper stickers. It is when I see a bumper sticker that alludes to the driver being a Christian, particularly when their behavior on the road is anything but Christ-like.
I’m a fairly good driver, if I do say so myself. I can drive an automatic and a manual. I can parallel park, near perfectly, despite the fact I only have to do it about once a year or so. I’m not overly aggressive, nor timid. I don’t rake up tickets or have lots of accidents. People are not afraid to drive with me, and in fact I have taught quite a few people how to drive. But, I am also human. Which means that it is entirely possible that I might make a mistake.
Each day, I drive our three children to three different schools. I then make the same run in the afternoon. My children are in 3 different schools, but, I actually pass through a total of 6 school zones, twice per day… five days a week. Yesterday, as I was on my final trip home, my daughter had asked me a question & I was thinking through the answer. What I didn’t realize is, in my distraction, I had mistaken the speed limit sign for the “End School Zone” sign. (Both are white, rectangular signs with black lettering) So, I began to accelerate to the normal speed limit for that area.
That was when the man, who had the “Real Men Love Jesus” bumper sticker on his truck, rolled down his window & began to yell and wave his hands at me. Yes hands, plural. Meaning he didn’t have his eyes on the road, nor did he even have a single hand on his steering wheel. All the while, his daughter is in the seat next to him. Yelling, at a woman in a car with her daughter. At first I really had no idea what his commotion was about, then I saw the actual end zone sign. I realized my error.
I wondered after the incident….
Did that scare his daughter? Did he care that it scared my daughter, and potentially me?
Did he not realize that he was just as guilty of making a mistake as I was?
Did he not think that instead of yelling at me, he could have waited until we were stopped at the traffic light, rolled down his window… motioned to me… and calmly said “Hey, you know that you were still in a school zone?”.
Did he really think it was appropriate for a man to speak to a woman that way in the first place?
And then, I thought about his sticker…. and wondered….
Did he realize that every where he drives in that truck, where that sticker is plain for all to see, that he is a public witness to Christ?
Is that how Christ would have talked to me, to anyone?
Is that how we want to represent Christ to the world, when we make a spectacle of our selves like that?
The word says:
James 1:19 — My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
Proverbs 14:29 — Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.
Psalm 37:8 — Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
Proverbs 222:4 — Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered
That was just a sampling of the scripture that warns us against our anger toward others. Scripture also offers us the suggestion of how we are to treat others, such as:
Ephesians 4:29 — Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
We are supposed to forgive as we are forgiven, to extend mercy and grace in the same measure (if not more) than it has been extended to us; and we are supposed to help each other by guiding, shaping, building up, redirecting, mentoring.
Ephesians 4:32 — Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
There was nothing wrong about this man choosing to address the mistake I made, but there was definitely error in the manner in which he did it. The world was watching, because we were not to the only two people on the road. There were cars around us. I bet they saw that bumper sticker too.
Which reminded me of another situation I saw recently. A man was wearing the t-shirt of a ministry he works with in the local grocery store. It was vivid and caught my attention, but only after I heard this 40+ year old man yelling and berating his elderly mother.
When we walk out the door in that Christian t-shirt, or drive off in our car with the Jesus fish bumper sticker…. we are openly professing our faith & people are watching.
What do they see? Do they see Christ in you? Are they blessed by their encounter with you?
Or, do they see something else?