Mary Coleman: Road righteousness

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Monday, July 30th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

You may well be on your way to work this morning. Or you may have an errand to run later today that will involve your car.

And I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that at some point you’ll find yourself driving behind a slow-poke of a driver. Or maybe someone tailing you so closely he might as well be sitting in your backseat.

You know what I’m talking about.

BASHAM: Do I! Living in North Carolina, I’ve learned that “N.C.” must also mean Nascar.

EICHER: Well, this next part of the program may hit a little close to home. Who among us hasn’t experienced a little bit of road rage at some point or another?

BASHAM: Mary Coleman’s here now with some thoughts on that.

MARY COLEMAN, COMMENTATOR: As our children were growing up, my husband used a simple phrase to remind them to guard their public behavior. Whenever they left the house he would say, “Remember who you represent.”

He was talking about Jesus, of course. And he was talking about our family. It’s true for all of us that our behavior is a reflection upon the name we carry as family members and as Christ followers. This is especially true in traffic.

For years, I publicly confessed that I lived my Christianity everywhere except in traffic. Few things erode my holiness more than someone driving too slowly in the left lane.

My carnal side wants to believe that road rage is inherited. My dad was notorious for pacing his speed just right on the route from work to home. His goal was to make all the green lights, and those who interfered with this quest were met with verbal tirades and scorn. One day after arriving home, dad sheepishly confessed that he almost use sign language of the crudest order until he realized the slow driver was—our pastor .

My mother, a normally calm and measured woman, hit every pothole on Sundays, racing to get us to church on time. These situations silently taught me that driving is a race. Unfortunately, I passed this driving style on to my children—who often called me out for speeding. These days, they get the same rebuke from me.

Maybe it’s because I am a grandmother now. It seems so wrong to mumble “Get off the road, Granny,” as I whiz by a cautious gray-haired driver.

It seems childish now to accelerate through yellow lights, to ride bumpers, or to pump my brakes to prevent someone else from riding mine.

Yes, there are elderly people who drive slowly. But it’s a vital form of independence and a link to their friends and getting groceries.

Yes, there are many speed demons on the road. But maybe they are rushing to the hospital for the birth of their baby, or to hug a loved one who is about to die.

To be a Christian in traffic is more than taking pride in a fish magnet, a vanity plate with a scripture verse, or a bumper sticker about your full quiver. All these simply announce our hypocrisy when we are rude on the road. To be a Christian in traffic means exercising more humility and less hostility. Rather than be aggressive, maybe we can bear the fruit of the Spirit instead:

Patience and self-control are far better than horn honking and gesticulating.

Gentleness allows another driver to merge ahead of us.

Kindness bypasses the parking spot closer in so someone else can have it.

We can choose joy and peace even if we arrive late to our destination.

All of this takes practice and we will certainly fail. But loving our neighbor in the next lane will be easier when we remember who we represent.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Mary Coleman.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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