Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On Christian Behavior and Influence

If you have a fish on your vehicle; have a bumper sticker or other tag that identifies you with a Christian institution, school or university; or in any other way outwardly hint that you are a Christian, please do not do the following:

* Tailgate me or the cars around me, especially at high speeds.
* Drive agressively and with an impatient and irritated demeanor.
* Race forward to cut me off so you can get a few cars ahead when you could have pulled in behind me. Especially do not do this as we approach our church entrance.
* Blow through stop signs or the first 2 seconds of a red light.
* Fly through my neighborhood at 15-20 miles above the 30 or 35 mph speed limit.
* Do 30-35 mph in a school zone.
* Do >25 mph in the school or church parking lot.
* Park in the fire lane, or the handicap spots when you are not, (emotionally does not count) because you are only running in for a moment. Especially do not do this in front of Starbucks in your SUV.
* Blindly merge without planning your merge point or signaling. Especially do not do this if your lane is the one that ends and the sign said your lane merges, which means yield! (Why have so many thought the law changed so that if your lane ends you just hug it until you blindly move into traffic? Source of another rant sometime).
* Floor it to cut me off when I am properly merging by picking my spot, adjusting my speed for that spot and signaling my intention.
* Sling your door open and ding mine in the parking lot and walk off.

When you act this way with identifying marks on your car or person you are not providing a Christian example. I picked simple actions in the car that I witness on a daily basis from people with clear Christian symbols visible to all. We all could list hundreds of other examples of how we do not represent Christ in simple, everyday behaviors while wearing our Christian cheerleading outfits.

Give some serious thought to how you act while openly proclaiming Christianity. And yes, I am very guilty myself. (I sure hope my wife shows Christian love and restraint and does not post a comment).

If the above comments, or rant if you prefer, seem trivial, then consider this excerpt from American history.
The assault triggered a war between the British and the Cherokees, which outlasted the French and Indian War. The British drove deep into Cherokee territory, against the Cherokee villages. The destruction the British wreaked caused even some of their own soldiers to wince.

Lieutenant Francis Marion (soon to become famous for his exploits against the British recorded: We proceeded, by Colonel Grant’s orders, to burn the Indian cabins. Some of the men seemed to enjoy this cruel work, laughing heartily at the curling flames, but to me it appeared a shocking sight. Poor creatures, thought I, we surely need not grudge you such miserable habitations. But when we came, according to orders, to cut down the fields of corn, I could scarcely refrain from tears. Who, without grief, could see the stately stalks with broad green leaves and tasseled shocks, the staff of life, sink under our swords with all their precious load, to wither and rot untasted in their mourning fields? I saw everywhere around, the footsteps of the little Indian children, where they had lately played under the shade of their rustling corn. When we are gone, thought I, they will return, and peeping through the weeds with tearful eyes, will mark the ghastly ruin where they had so often played. “Who did this?” they will ask their mothers. And the reply will be, “The white people did it—the Christians did it!”

-- from Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times, by H.W. Brands.


JMG said...

"Christian cheerleading outfits"

LOL! Now I'm making up little pithy Christian cheers in my head.

I feel your pain. No one would ever accuse me of being a Christian when I'm behind the wheel.

Tony Arnold said...

I told you I would publish a rant triggered by your Good News post.

The section I posted from Andrew Jackson's biography really made me sad. I knew it already, but reflections on the hideous things Christians have done, either in the name of God or not, always makes me sad.

I know Christians don't hold a monopoly on this and probably as a whole do less evil (I would hope). But that does not matter. We are called to, claim, and profess a higher standard thus we have greater accountability.

JMG said...

I sort of wondered if some woman in a big SUV blocked your access to Starbucks recently.

We are called to, claim, and profess a higher standard thus we have greater accountability.

Some of the evangelical church people are going to have to answer for endorsing war and torture.

Tony Arnold said...

No, in general I am just amazed daily on how I watch people drive that have a fish emblem, Christian university or church sticker on their car and wonder if they ever think about the irony of what they are advertising and what their actions demonstrate?

I was discussing my rant pre-publish with a friend at church and he raised a very interesting point. He said, "if you are going to preach right-to-life, I want to look to see if your donor card is signed, if you give blood, if you and your family wear seat-belts and helmets, are not obese, etc.

jettybetty said...

I will not have any Christian signs on my car, because I am a horrible driver. I don't mean to be (most of the time)--but I truly think I might cause someone to stumble!

I was discussing my rant pre-publish with a friend at church and he raised a very interesting point. He said, "if you are going to preach right-to-life, I want to look to see if your donor card is signed, if you give blood, if you and your family wear seat-belts and helmets, are not obese, etc. Preach on!

JMG said...

I decided to stop wearing cross jewelry not too long ago, but not because of the reasons you're talking about with Christian emblems on cars. One day I just suddenly got put off by the image of the ancient Roman torture device and I didn't want to wear the symbol of something that caused so much misery.

Maybe I'm just weird.

Tony Arnold said...

JMG your comment reminds me of something Randy Harris said in a talk once. Being a minister, he does wear a cross around his neck, but he is aware that some may have negative impression when they see it and some positive. One day he was waiting for a flight in the airport and saw a young women obviously distressed about something, she was crying for a long period. He felt obligated to approach her to see if he could provide comfort. He said approaching her did not bother him, but his dilemma was did he approach her cross in, or cross out.

Randy is very funny.

JMG said...

Off topic--Is the flooding up north affecting your job?

Tony Arnold said...

Flooding always affects the barge company. High water causes a lot of problems, but it is life. Low water causes different but just as bad of problems.

Actually, I do not work for Ingram Barge anymore. I moved over to a new Ingram Division called Ingram Digital Group. It is part of their Ingram Content Companies which includes Ingram Book Group, Lightning Source (print on demand books), Ingram Periodicals, Ingram Publisher Services, and us. I am Director, Content Solutions.

I moved over last July to run their Oracle eBusiness Suite Implementation. We went live with that financial system early this year and I just moved into this new role. Ingram Digital Group distributes and manages eContent for Publishers.

Tony Arnold said...

BTW, I work in LaVergne now. We should link up for lunch in the happening metropolis of Symrna.

JMG said...

LOL! Smyrna is getting on up there--two drive thru coffee shops on the same street, and a Super Target.

So do y'all help publishers offer downloadable content at the retail level? Or is it more for database access from libraries and such?

Tony Arnold said...

Both. We have a retail eContent distib, and specific Library services. We also have a specific Institutional area for University curriculum, Corporate, Government, etc.