What Could Be Better Than That?

Published in the April 2016 issue of the First Church, Simsbury newsletter, The Cornerstone.

In 1978, when I was sixteen years old, my father helped me buy a 1969 MGB convertible. It wasn’t in great shape – missing a front bumper, had ripped upholstery and a cheap coat of paint- and cost only a thousand dollars. But it was fire-engine red, had knock-off wire wheels, and it was mine! Our first car represents independence, both practically and symbolically. The symbolic value of my little, red convertible was especially strong; it screamed FREEDOM! There is a What could be better than this? of me driving my MG, top down, friend in the passenger seat, with two teenage girls perched precariously behind the two seats, their arms thrust in the air, and huge smiles on all our faces! What could be better than that?

Well, within my first year of owning that sweet icon of freedom I had accumulated four tickets and had my license suspended. The citations included a fender bender, speeding, rolling through a stop sign, and a late-night “chase” through the streets of my town with two friends who also drove British sports cars. Now, thirty-six years later and a father of a teenager myself, I shake my head and wonder, what was my father thinking? Honestly, I’m lucky to be alive.

In addition to losing my license (and freedom) I was required to complete a defensive driving class. As awful as this whole experience was, to this day I remember the core lesson of that class. Pay attention to other drivers.This simple practice forever changed my driving and in some way, my life. It’s not all about me. I may be free, but that doesn’t mean I can do whatever I want. I have a responsibility to other people.

We just celebrated Easter. Even more than a red, MG convertible, resurrection symbolizes freedom, liberation from persecution, suffering and death. Some Christians make the same mistake I did as a young driver and assume this freedom is meant for our personal enjoyment. Our American culture reinforces this self-centered understanding of individual freedom, freedom from authority. “No one can tell me what to do!”

But this is not the understanding of freedom revealed through the empty tomb. Like my defensive driving class, the gospels teach us that freedom comes with a commitment to and responsibility for one another. It’s not all about us. As “the body of Christ,” the church is meant to model both freedom and responsibility. This means that church members and even our boards can’t just do whatever feels good and right. We must pay attention to one another, and by paying attention to each other we will come to experience true freedom from hardship and want. And THAT is even better than anything, even a teenage boy’s red convertible!

In Christ,

Pastor George
Published in: on June 9, 2016 at 8:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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