Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Adventures in learning to drive

My oldest son now has his learners permit, and as dad I'm the one who gets to sit in the passenger seat and attempt to give him pointers as he learns to drive. He has actually been doing very well, but yesterday we had our first close call. We were driving down the road in the right-most lane and a little ways up ahead there was a car stopped in our lane. As we got closer, my son still hadn't started to brake or let even let off the gas. I began to yell 'Stop! Stop! Stop!' at the top of my voice out of sheer terror as the bumper of that car quickly began to close in. As he finally began a much harder than normal brake, all the thoughts of things that could still go wrong filled my head and continued to cause a great amount of fear; 'What if there is a patch of gravel in the road and we end up sliding into that car, or what if the vehicle behind us can't stop in time because we haven't given them much warning.' I have experienced both of these before, so my experience tells me that you can never brake too early, only too late. My son probably saw things differently than I did for 2 reasons. First, being a new driver he probably has the idea that the car will always do exactly what you want it to, so you can 'stop on a dime' if you want. Second he was the one behind the wheel, and being behind the wheel give you more options than the passenger has. As the passenger, I was in sheer terror and I wanted to be anywhere but in that car in those few moments.

At the risk of over spiritualizing this incident, it got me thinking about how we often take people where they don't want to go. We sometimes take them on a ride of sheer terror, and they will do anything you ask if you would just them go. Paul encourages us to give grace to the hearer, but do we? How often have you heard this coming from someone who loves to tell people about hell -- "Jesus preached on hell twice as much as he did about heaven". I've heard countless people tell me that, but now with the age of computers we can now easily dispel that myth. I went to biblegateway and did a search of only the gospels and found the following statistics.

  • Hell appears in the Gospels 11 times, you can get up to 18 times if you include verses about 'outer darkness', and 'fiery furnace'.
  • 'Kingdom of Heaven', 'Kingdom of God', or Kingdom (in reference to the previous) appears in the Gospels 110 times.
  • Heaven appears 135 times.

Apparently Jesus actually talked about God's Kingdom 10 times more often than he talked about hell. Jesus never dismissed the reality of hell, but it obviously wasn't his main method of inviting people into the Kingdom. Now you know the truth of the matter the next time someone tries to tell you that, you can tell them you know better. May we give grace to a world that is already familiar with fear and terror.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A fun quote

"There are some who have no understanding to hear the truth of freedom and insist upon their goodness as means for salvation. These people you must resist, do the very opposite, and offend them boldly lest by their impious views they drag many with them into error. For the sake of liberty of the faith do other things which they regarded as the greatest of sins… use your freedom constantly and consistently in the sight of and despite the tyrants and stubborn so that they may learn that they are impious, that their law and works are of no avail for righteousness, and that they had no right to set them up."

--Martin Luther