It was a number of years ago that 8-year-old Whitney stopped me in the church hallway.
With hands on hips she said, “Preacher, you need to wear your seatbelt!”
Her mother laughed and explained they’d passed me in the city that week and perceptive Whitney saw I was beltless. She couldn’t wait to chide me at church the next Sunday. And justifiably so since I was at fault.
I thought about Whitney when I spoke from 1 Peter — a book Southern Baptists were studying at the time. Peter wrote, “Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works which they observe, glorify God ...” (1 Peter 2: 12).
Christians were ridiculed and lied about in Peter’s day. Nero blamed Christians for the burning of Rome, accused them of cannibalism when they observed communion and said they were disloyal citizens since they had a higher authority than Rome. But, Peter insisted, unbelievers must not be able to ridicule us because of the wrong we do. A part of doing right is obeying the laws of the land, including traffic laws.
I took the familiar WWJD (“What would Jesus do?”) bracelet in the message and changed it to HWJD, or “How would Jesus drive?”
I told our congregation that I’m sure Jesus would drive safely, obey the speed limit and be courteous to other drivers. And if we follow him, we must do the same.
I asked our members how they taught their 15- and 16-year-old children to drive, and if they drove the same way. This sobering question is worthy of deep reflection, for many Christians leave holiness at home when they get into their automobiles.
Oh, my. They had the torches, tar and pitchforks out for me after the sermon. Actually, it wasn’t that bad. But to alleviate the tension, I told our people the kind of car Jesus drove: a Christsler. One of our worshippers spoke up and said, “But the disciples were in one Accord.” Normally parishioners are to say “amen” to the pastor, but this retort was a good one and we all had a good laugh.
But back to the main idea, Christianity is supposed to superintend every part of our lives. Jesus said we’re to seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33), and this certainly includes the time we spend behind the wheel. None of us is guiltless, of course, but we must guard our personal example.
I blew it with young Whitney. But now, 20 years later, I still think of her and don’t want to disappoint others with my carelessness or rebellion. We’re called to be Christians 24/7.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church's website is siluriabaptist.com.