Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
Have you ever heard someone cry, “But I had the right of way?” That is something people often demand. Sometimes it is the last thing they are able to demand.
I recently was headed home from a Bee’s Baseball game with one of my grandsons. We had just gotten off of Interstate 80, and as it was dark, we quickly realized there was a power outage in Lake Point. We soon discovered it covered Stansbury Park as well.
My grandson has just entered high school, so I thought it would be a great time to teach him how to handle an intersection with non-working stoplights. We were talking about treating it as a four-way stop in such an event. I told him that the car in front of us would be next, following a semi tractor-trailer rig just to our right. The semi, in its proper turn, pulled into the intersection, and then jammed on its brakes, barely past the center of the intersection.
At that moment another semi with a trailer barreled through the intersection at full speed. He didn’t even hesitate. Every side of the intersection was filled with vehicles waiting their turn. If the first truck driver, the one who had the “right of way,” had not stopped, there likely would have been a horrific accident with fatalities.
The truck driver could have defiantly demanded his “right of way,” but it would have been fatally unwise to do so. Sadly, many people exercise that “right” unwisely every day.
I don’t know about you, but I lose count as to how many times daily that I must give up my right of way in order to avoid an accident. People seem oblivious to where they are in town, and they simply cruise through a stop sign, or even a red light. Sometimes I get the distinct impression they know they are not supposed to be doing what they are doing, but they do it anyway.
I could be just as stubborn, and demand the “way” that is rightfully mine, but it would cost me to do so; to be honest, sometimes that cost could be my life. I am almost certain you know what I am talking about.
Demanding your way as you move around the isles at Walmart, or as you drive around the city, is not the only way people unwisely exercise their ability to demand their right of way. Many people do the same thing with God.
Contrary to what many people think, God does not demand that you agree with Him, or that you choose to let Him have His way in your life. I often refer to God as a “good God,” in that God allows you to have your way in your life.
God created you in His image, and in doing so, one of the attributes God has given you is the attribute of being able to choose. In that respect, you can either choose to demand your right of way in regards to God, or you can choose to allow God to have His way in your life.
In other words, you can accept that total faith and trust in Jesus is the only way you can be truly forgiven of sin when you repent, and thereby receive the gift of eternal life, or you can choose to have your right of way to do your best, and thereby hope to be accepted by God based upon your best efforts.
Many people, secularly, and in many religions, choose to go this route. They demand their right of way, and God graciously allows them to have it. Unlike the truck driver, who barely avoided an accident, and possibly saved his own life, as well as the lives of others, they demand the right to be a part of their own salvation; they demand the right to earn eternal life, and in so doing they perish.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but through me.” Jesus said, “Unless you believe I am who I claim to be, and repent, you will perish.” When the Jews asked Him what works they must do to earn, or attain, eternal life, He said there was only one thing they could do, only one thing we can do, and that is to believe in the one the Father has sent. That one is Jesus alone!
I would encourage you not to demand your “right of way.” God will allow you to have it, because He is a good God. Instead, I would encourage you to allow God to have His way in your life; put your faith totally and wholly in Jesus.
I know too many good people who believe that they must add to what Jesus did, in order to be accepted by God. Jesus said He alone is the Resurrection, and the Life. Believe this, and you shall live. Give up your “rights,” and accept His Way!
McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.