A drunk driver drove off the road and landed in a ditch about ten feet from my neighbors house last night. Several minutes after the wreck his vehicle erupted in flames and our hero barely made it out before getting any serious burns . . . All of this excitement took place a couple of minutes before I arrived home. As I got out of my car, I couldn’t help but notice the enormous flames lighting up the night sky from the church parking-lot (we live in the parsonage). Upon closer inspection, it became clear that this was not a bonfire. I immediately called 911 and alerted the local fire department who had, thankfully, already been dispatched. Within five minutes the volunteer fire department, an ambulance, and a couple of sheriffs pulled up and began to contain the fire and assess the drivers wounds.
As I stood watching all of this I suddenly noticed a group of guys across the street filming the event with their iPhones. Out of curiosity, I wandered over to their side of the road and struck up a conversation. Before long, I realized the entire group was drunk out of their minds. The gentleman recording the event was especially hammered. I asked him if he had witnessed the accident? In his, rather comical, state of inebriation, he was elated to recount the nights events with excitement and gusto. His concluding remark (which he shouted while standing next to his truck) was perhaps the best part of his vivid account: “Annnnnd dis is why you sh-should NEVER EVER . . . DRINK and DRIVE!”
It took everything in me not to burst out laughing. The expression on my face must have given this fact away because a minute after this exclamation he looked at me and said, “Well . . . I-I mean, I’ve been drinken tonight . . . but I’m on f—n eight acres of land . . . ya know?”
I think Christians are often a lot like my drunk iPhone videographer friend. We stand on the side lines, guilty of all manor of sin, and chastise others for their mistakes. This is why so many people think Christianity is a joke. This is why they don’t take anything we say seriously . . . we seem just as absurd and hypocritical as a drunken fool lecturing on and on about not drinking and driving; or like someone with a plank in their eye trying to remove the speck from their neighbors.
Jesus teaches that we should be careful not to judge — i.e. look down in condescension upon — others. He says:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get” (Matt. 7:1-2).
Ironically, Christians are some of the most judgmental people on the planet. We rail on and on about traditional marriage and sexual ethics and yet, statistically, there is no difference in our rate of divorce or in the number of men and women watching pornography or having affairs, than with the rest of society. The pastor of a mega church teaches that homosexuality is an abomination and is caught paying for gay prostitutes at a seedy hotel. Another pastor preaches passionately about good stewardship while absconding with church funds. One could go on and on explicating example after example . . .
The problem is, in our fervent desire to proclaim God’s law, we have forgotten one of Christ’s most profound teachings:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matt. 5:3-7).
Humility should be the default attitude of the true follower of Christ. For it is only when we are “poor in spirit” and when we “mourn” and when we are “meek” that we can recognize our own failures and limitations as a fallen human beings. It is only then that we are able to understand that we, like everyone, are in desperate need of a savior. It is only when we look at the other drunk drivers with pity and brokenness of heart that we are able to obtain mercy and forgiveness for our sins.
When we look upon others with pity and meekness of heart – when we recognize our own failures and our own finite nature – we are then and only then in a position to stop looking like drunken idiots and start looking like Christ.