Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Faulty Theology

Gee mister, I’m glad you’re well off enough to go at that speed and risk getting a ticket…

Holy crap, I’m already going five over what do you want me to do?

Psh, at least I’m not going that fast…where’s the cop that pulled me over the other day now!?

My thoughts in traffic reveal bad theology. I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks this way; in fact, from frequent conversations with friends I know I’m not. If someone is going too fast they’re a lunatic, too slow (read: slower than me) they’re idiots, not using a blinker they’re inconsiderate, wrong bumper sticker (anything to do with the Longhorns, obviously) and they’re going to hell (ok, kidding on that one…sort of).

I may be right. Other people very well might be driving too fast, recklessly and dangerously even. But what’s my standard for irritation and indignation? My own speed, my own obedience to traffic laws, my own driving “skills”. Do I go the exact speed limit? Do I always use my blinker? I can tell you right now that I don’t. I consistently go five over the speed limit (gasp), I forget to signal when changing lanes, sometimes I get distracted and even dip below the speed limit (double gasp), I’ve even cut people off before (hmm, maybe I need to take the ichthus off the back of my car…)

Delving further still, the main reason I follow the traffic laws (even if imperfectly) is ultimately only because I don’t want to get a ticket. Maybe part of me cares about keeping safe, but without those speed limit signs I’d probably be driving 80 just about everywhere I went (that is, if my car would let me…the pig is starting to shutter when I go over 60). Even my motivations are messed up!

What does this have to do with theology? My attitudes in traffic show what I really believe about the way God looks at us. I can say all I want that I’ve been saved by grace alone, that my sin is worthy of death and just as offensive as the sins of others, but when I rail against someone speeding more than me, I prove that I do not always operate this way.
At least I’m not as bad as him or her.

I would never do something like that.

I need to be reminded, and frequently, what the real standard is when it comes to God. He has no sin, He is perfect, and His perfection is the standard. By no stretch of the imagination can I ever meet such an impossible standard. Period. Therefore, I am in utter need of grace and mercy and have no room to boast that “at least I haven’t committed sin ‘x’”.

The fact is, sin, all sin, any sin (even “respectable” ones) is rebellion against the loving God Who created the universe; the One without Whom we wouldn’t even exist. My decision to tell a white lie tramples on His truthfulness, my irritation with someone offends His love for His creations, my complaining accuses Him of not being faithful to take care of me and give me good things (even if they are hard). I fall horrendously short of His glory, no matter how good I look to the rest of the world, and without His grace deserve nothing short of eternal condemnation.

My prayer is that my deep seated belief that I am somehow innately good with be upturned like a basket of rotten fruit, that God will help me understand the depth of my sin and the gloriousness of His gift, and that because of this new understanding of myself will foster an attitude of love and mercy towards others.

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