Monday, July 7, 2008

Think Before you Stick

I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently, and this article caused that conversation to come up again, so I must post it. It is about the whole Christian bumper sticker/fish/and now license plate thing.

When my wife and I were moving from Orange County to the High Desert, we ran into some traffic while driving up the Cajon Pass because of wildfires. Firefighters had closed off 3 of the 5 lanes coming "up the hill" as we say, so, understandably, there was quite a traffic jam. Towing a trailer of the few things we own, I was driving more conservatively than normal as it isn't something I frequently do. I turned on my signal to merge lanes and began creeping into an opening in the lane to my left. Just as I was about to merge over, the truck in the lane I was merging into sped up, prevented me from making the lane change. So, there I sat...angry that this guy wouldn't let me over as my lane came closer and closer to an end. As he pulled forward, it revealed something that took me from angry to furious...the Christian fish.

So let me get this straight...the guy who wouldn't let me over, the guy who prevented me from merging out of a closed lane in the midst of a traffic jam...was a Christian? If I wasn't moving from one church job to another church job, I have no idea what fingers I would have trusted vigorously into the air.

So why does this matter? It matters because people associate our behaviors with our faith. Even if those associations are completely unrealistic, unfounded, or just plain wrong. For all I know, the guy driving the truck had no idea I needed to get over, and no idea my lane was ending. And yet, my reaction, even as a brother in Christ, was that he gives the faith a bad name. With that understanding, it is critical that we choose our actions and words carefully, as they are a reflection of our relationship with Christ.

This applies personally and organizationally. If you are rude while wearing your work uniform, or the logo of your school, people will judge the respective organization based on your actions.

We must be intelligent when we choose how we display our faith.

When you see the back of a car long enough to notice the stickers on it, you have just been cut off or are being forced to drive significantly under the speed limit and are angry (at least I am). Not exactly the best time to promote your faith... or just about anything else.


Ryan said...

Word up.

It is of this same fear that I would never want to put a Jesus fish or NOTW sticker on my car. What if I accidentally cut somebody off (let alone intentionally drive like a jerk)? I'm fine having someone judge Ralph Wiggum picking his nose, but I'd rather not have them judge my faith.

Another thought: if someone is driving like a jerk and they have a sticker on their car representing something I don't like, I immediately think, "Typical." Like some guy with an Obama sticker. "Well, of course you're driving like an idiot, you're also voting Democratic!" As if that has anything to do with his driving ability.

I do get especially mad when I see that ichthus after being cut off, though.

I also get mad in general when I see the NOTW stickers, but that's another story.

Amy said...

I think driving alters the personality of many people. So many people I know who are calm and collected in life become easily irritated, frustrated, or just plain pissed off once they jump behind the wheel. While we try to refrain from judging others during the rest of our day, once we start driving (myself included) it seems like being judgmental becomes instinctual and much harder to avoid doing than during the rest of our day. I am guessing this is true for most people, so why "market your faith" with your car, when odds are the target audience is least receptive? Great article!