No Christians at the Toll Gate


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The well-known radio pastor is fond of saying, “If you knew me the way I know myself you wouldn’t be so impressed. I’ll tell you, sometimes when I’m driving, and somebody gets in my way, I don’t feel so lovely”.

Brothers and sisters — can we talk? I mean, let’s get down to where the rubber meets the road. What kind of Christian are you when you get behind the wheel? That really is a good litmus test of how faithful you are to living a life that exemplifies Christ — especially when someone cuts you off on the turnpike.

I live next to a school and, of course, there are special rules that apply when driving in a school zone. However, people don’t abide by the rules, and there have been a number of accidents over the years outside my home. Screeching brakes and crumpling metal is not a pleasant sound. So, the city installed a three-way stop at my intersection. For six months I would gaze out my breakfast window and observe the traffic. No one obeyed the stop signs. Nobody stopped! At best they would slow-and-go, or simply drive through the intersection if they didn’t spot a traffic cop.

(Question: What sins do you commit when you think no one is watching, hmm?)

As I have witnessed the hundreds of scofflaws who have contemptuously ignored the law, I’ve wondered how many of them are Christian … and … could this be a valid, statistical representation of the narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14)? 

This is what I’m thinking as I look out my window — the hundreds who ignore the stop signs are going to hell, but the one who actually comes to a complete stop — behind the line — will enter heaven.

Pedestrian fatalities (in my city) are one of the highest in the nation. The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) reports that 22% of traffic-related deaths involve pedestrians.

In my town walkers, skateboarders and bicyclists are regarded by motorists as nothing more than orange cones on an obstacle course. Interviews gathered by police officers at accident scenes suggest that drivers simply did not see the person they struck, or they try to blame the victim who was hit. Police reports, however, reveal that most pedestrians are run over while they are legally crossing the street. The motorist was either distracted or exceeding the posted limit, and unable to react in time to avoid the incident.

In full disclosure, I do not drive; and either walk or ride a bike to get from here to there. Frankly speaking, most drivers (I dare say all) have absolutely no regard for my life and safety. No one yields the right of way to me on the street or at a crosswalk. You might say motorists vs. pedestrians is typology of good vs. evil. (Tongue in cheek.)

Psst, here’s a driver handbook refresher: When stopped at a corner, the motorist must yield the right of way to walkers crossing from either direction. But they never do. They always cut me off. One lady told a police officer, “Well, I just thought I could beat him through the crosswalk”. This happens to me everyday, and it grieves my soul that some of these offenders must be Christian.

I was nearly run over while legally riding my bike — on the sidewalk! A motorist was trying to avoid a backup so he cut through a driveway, onto the sidewalk — and he yelled at me to get out of his way. Cities that enforce sting operations compile some revealing statistics. Drivers who are stopped for violating pedestrian right of way are either antagonistic or ignorant of the law. In the first instance they are mad at being cited — no one is sorry for breaking the law, but that they got caught — and in the second instance they simply didn’t know that the law required them to stop when someone was crossing the middle of the street. Really?! How, then, did they pass the driver’s test?

One sting operation — where plainclothes officers acted as pedestrian decoys — nabbed 72 violators in just over two hours. Do the math and you can see that this is a huge safety concern. It was expected that 15% of those caught — in their defense — would blame the undercover cops.

Pop quiz: What does a yellow light mean?

A. Slow down and prepare to stop.

B. Hit the gas to beat the red light.

In my town you can’t cross some intersections before the light changes; and (according to the Department of Motor Vehicles) it behooves anyone on foot to not presume, under any circumstance, they have the right of way. Because even the state recognizes that the person cocooned within 2,000 pounds of steel has an attitude that you — the pedestrian — are just in the way. As one official said, “When it comes to pedestrians, motorists drive with intimidation. Their attitude is that it’s up to you to get out of the way. Enforcement and education go a long way in making it safer for anyone on foot.”

The Good News in Jesus Christ is that there is no toll gate on the way to heaven. He paid the price so that all who would believe might enter. May you show your faith down here by exercising some caution and respect as you drive down the road of life.

[Edit: I’m gazing out my window after writing this post, and no one is observing the stop signs. A police officer said that drivers know they are breaking the law, but they simply don’t care other than hoping they don’t get caught. It does reveal the self-centered nature of the human heart. The law doesn’t apply to me. That’s why Jesus Christ came to die upon the Cross.]

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2 thoughts on “No Christians at the Toll Gate”

  1. I think one reason so many drivers disregard the safety of others on the roadways is that we’ve lost the sense of community that engenders an attitude of caring for those around us. Community used to mean the people we live and work around — other people who also call our neighborhoods home. People used to care about those with whom they shared their same home town — just because they were neighbors, a part of the community. But now, community refers to any specialized group you choose to relate to: age communities, racial communities, religious communities, sexual orientation communities — everything but real communities. Everyone outside of our self-focused “community” is just a faceless nobody. In our competitive frame of mind to get where we want to go as fast as we can, faceless nobodies don’t count. They aren’t part of our selfish reality. They’re just in the way, kind of like unwanted children. If Christians want their driving to reflect the virtues of our faith, they need to start by actually caring for others (or you might say loving your neighbors) while they are behind the wheel.

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  2. Michael, I examined reports from several metropolitan precincts and the stats are very troubling. For years police departments focused on pedestrian violations such as jaywalking, but the facts are that motorists are usually at fault in pedestrian-related accidents. Very troubling are the attitudes that drivers have towards walkers.

    “They’re idiots,” said one driver who was caught in a sting operation. “It’s like the city doesn’t want us to own cars.”

    Huh?! The guy just broke the law, and walkers are stupid?!

    One police official said that traffic cops don’t really understand the scope of the problem until they get out of their squad car and walk the streets. That’s why municipalities across the nation are implementing sting operations as a matter of enforcement.

    To me it really is a moral issue. The violator has absolutely no concern for anyone but themselves. They’re distracted by the radio, cell phone or kids in the back seat. But mostly, they have to get to where they’re going, they have to beat the light, they can’t stop for the sign — and I (the pedestrian) am just in their way.

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