I usually drive about 100 miles a day when I am out and about. I like to drive. I often drive in silence, thinking about a variety of things. Sometimes I play mind games while driving…math problems, the ABC game with road signs, word games with license plate letters. Yesterday on my journeys to Inver Grove Heights and then south Minneapolis I saw 3 cars that had “whiskey plates”. These are special plates in MN that are very recognizable. They are plain white with black letters/numbers, always starting with WH. I don’t know all the specifics, but generally these cars are driven by people who have been charged with DUI. I believe that any officer can stop any of these marked cars for no reason and do a check. I would imagine having that identification on the vehicle is a strong deterrent to bad driving behavior.
A lot of Christians put a variety of identification marks on their cars. Fish symbols, bumper stickers, crosses…I remember when I was growing up in a very Roman Catholic town, I always wondered about those little plastic statues that only the catholics seemed to have had in their cars. Sometimes I see these “Christian cars” break basic traffic laws and also not have very good driving etiquette. For the first time the other day, I saw a license plate encased in an “Atheist” plate holder.
I have never been one to “advertise” my beliefs by external means. Tatoos, bumper stickers, yard signs, facebook posts and reposts, ribbons, flags, this and that…( I do wear my Packers shirts intentionally when I know Vikings fans will be around ). It seems to me that when we do “advertise” it is putting our identity in a box and whether we like it or not, others will make judgements about us that go something like this…”That person is on ‘our side'” or “That person is against us.” I think all of us are a whole lot more complex than a slogan or a sign.
For example, I know a person who has whiskey plates that has gotten his life together and is not a threat at all to society.
While I am a Christian, I am sure “the Atheist” is a fine person and I would love to engage him in a spiritual (or aspiritual, as the case may be) conversation.
It seems to me that Jesus said something about the fact that it is not what is on the outside of a person that identifies them…it is what is on the inside…what is in the heart and soul. I have been thinking a lot about that lately. While I work on my own soul and heart, and while I help others do the same, I am trying hard to look beyond the outside appearance and see what is deeper…I want to help the grace and beauty to come out…and the ugliness to be excised. It is a small way of making our world a better place.
I want to encourage you this day to do the same. Don’t be satisfied with judging others by their outside appearances. Get to know them. Bless them. Bring out the good you see. And if you develop a healthy relationship, maybe you will get a chance to talk about the unhealthy things you see as well. And don’t forget to look deep into your own heart and soul to see what needs affirmation…or change.
God bless you richly in these days!