1 Corinthians 15:3
The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says; that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around (although a few have since died); that he then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him; and that he finally presented himself alive to me. It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence.
Ever done something and just wanted to slap yourself silly knowing that you did not represent God in a very good light with your actions? Ever wanted to go back and erase an event that just happened and ask God for a do-over? How about being so embarrassed you just want to hide from what you just did until someone else takes the spotlight with their own act of ungodliness? Well the story I am about to share with you is personally embarrassing, but through these ordeals we learn and grow in our relationship with Christ and learn how to respect and represent in a pleasing, mature form.
I once was a youth leader, long ago in my twenties. We had a small group but none the less we were pretty close. I have always been the “fun person” in the groups I participated in and was known for being a little on the weird side. Now I am ashamed to admit that road-rage (while not the extreme kind) was once a lifestyle I lived. I got angry at the dumbest things. One time in particular I was stopped at a stop light when the car behind me started honking and my reaction was confusion as traffic was coming and there was no way of me making a right turn at any given moment. Well, the car kept honking and annoying me further so as I was able to finally turn and the car slowly passed me, the passengers waving wildly, I (this is the bad part, close your imagination eyes please) flipped them off only to realize in horror that one of my youth students was in that car, WITH their parents!
How horrible did I feel? I am sure you can imagine. God used that moment to at least correct me from EVER flipping off anyone again. Now maybe a point I need to make is that I was one of the Christians trying to live that double life of world and church…never works out for the better. Yep, I was a youth leader, leader of tomorrows youth….still partying on the week-ends and obviously not acting or behaving much like a true follower of Christ. I thus have grown tremendously in the years since, but lots of lessons to learn in between. I still was an angry driver, not understanding why people pulled out in front of me. I think I may have even gotten out of my car once to make sure I did not have a new license plate that said, “Please, Pull out in front of me.” I am not sure what changed my tune one day but I soon began to bless others instead of cursing them. Maybe it was the issue that I was trying to take swearing out of my vocabulary and this was the place I started, I don’t know, I just began blessing and it has turned my driving into a much more pleasurable thing to do.
Tonight as I was driving home in the dark, I mentioned out loud that I had not even known there was a car behind me until I pulled away at the light because they were so close to me I could not even see their headlights. As the car sped around me and weaved through traffic my daughter begins to spout out about twenty reasons why the car could be speeding. Here are some: a family member was injured, they were headed to the hospital, they were late for work, maybe they just lost their job and don’t know how to tell there spouse, a relative had just passed away and they were trying to deal with it through driving….at some point I got lost in the numerous reasons why someone would be driving erratically and I tried to explain that some of those reasons were why I bless people now, but she just kept speaking. She was really pushing the issue and then of course I asked the dumbest question, “What if they were driving that way just because they like to drive fast?” (I pray for their safety in that case) She of course just sighed and said I interrupted her momentum.
I truly feel that we need to express that we are Christians no matter what we are doing. The rear of my van is covered with stickers representing who I stand for, so I try harder now to represent Christ even in my driving. My daughter is 100% correct when she says that we have no idea what those persons are going through, we have been there ourselves. We can only aspire in this life to live one that is worthy of being called a son or daughter of God, it is through our actions others begin to see the Light and that Light cannot shine when it is shrouded by our own darkness. We have to make that choice between good and evil. We can be one way in the world and a totally different person in church where: A. You are already accepted and B. God called us to represent Him (the Great Commission). I will continue to correct my not perfect actions from day to day, growing ever closer to the person God sees in me. Will I ever be perfect? Nope, but I want to be loyal to being a Christian both at church and while I am milling around in the world.