Let’s keep things and people straight

If you live and drive in Wichita, Kansas, you appreciate what it means when you say someone is a good driver. Good drivers are hard to find, and they’re almost nonexistent in Wichita. Yes, I’m exaggerating. But you get the point.

It’s not uncommon when I’m merging from one major highway to the next that I encounter people swerving all over the place, asleep at the wheel, or looking like they’re having a psychotic episode while they’re trying to steer. But something happened yesterday morning that I’m not sure has happened to me before.

I was coming down a long on-ramp. Lots of cars behind me, so I couldn’t slow down too far. And there were three vehicles in the lane I needed to get into. Out front was a giant, huge construction truck of some kind. In the middle was a black Lexus. At the back was a white suburban.

There was just enough room for me to slide in between the black Lexus and the white suburban. At least, there was when I started to merge. Inexplicably, as I was trying to slide in between them, the black Lexus started slowing down. The suburban didn’t slow down, so the space between them (where I was trying to go) was getting smaller and smaller.

The Lexus knew I needed to get over. The lane was ending. IT’s marked all over the place. And I wasn’t being rude. I had my signal on. But whoever was driving kept slowing down.

I didn’t have enough lane to speed up and go around the Lexus, so I just cut it closer than I normally would have liked and pulled in between them anyway. White suburban had to slow down, but they were going to have to slow down anyway because black Lexus kept going slower and slower until they stopped at a steady rate. My exit was coming up so I couldn’t go around, but the suburban did. And so did five other cars behind me.

I couldn’t figure it out because there was so much space between the black Lexus and that big construction truck. And that’s when I realized. The black Lexus was keeping six car lengths away from the big construction truck because it might be throwing rocks, and they didn’t want to chip their fancy paint job.

Now, I’m all for taking care of my car. It’s a valuable machine, and it represents a huge investment. But this black Lexus nearly got me killed. I nearly died because that crazy driver cared more about his paint job than he did about another driver on the road.

Ebenezer Scrooge (George C. Scott) from Dickens' A Christmas Carol

Ebenezer Scrooge (George C. Scott) from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (since our topic is about loving things more than people and considering that it’s Christmas, this just seemed appropriate)

Today’s verses are Luke 12:13-15.

Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Do you know someone who measures his or her life by possessions or status? What I’ve noticed about those people is that if possessions and status are the source of their life’s purpose, that’s what becomes the most important to them. And rightly so. Whatever your life is about should be the most important thing in your life.

But should that be possessions and status? Because the more you care about what you own, the less you care about the people around you. Am I saying that we should live recklessly? Of course not. Am I saying that we shouldn’t take care of the things God has given us? No, that’s not it at all.

What I’m saying is that we should be less concerned about our things and more concerned about people’s lives. It’s like placing the condition of your church’s carpet over the caliber of people who walk on it. It’s like seeing more value in the clothes you’re wearing than helping others who don’t have a roof over their head.

Yes, take care of your things. Yes, be responsible. But please, please get your priorities straight. So what if your fancy, shiny black Lexus hood gets a chip in it? You put more value on helping another driver get safely where she needed to be than in the pristine condition of your car.

Things are things. People are people. Let’s keep them straight.