Do Christians Have the Right of Way?


“The light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing and stopped at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection. The tailgating woman behind him was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration, as she missed her chance to get through the intersection. 

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, giving the guy in front of you the finger and cursing at him. I noticed the 'What Would Jesus Do' bumper sticker, the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the 'Follow Me to Sunday-School' bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk, so naturally I assumed you had stolen the car." - Anonymous

When I first got out of Seminary I was really proud and excited to wear my new clerical collar at every opportunity. It announced, ahead of anything I might say, who I was. Then I learned it also created expectations for others to anticipate how I should behave in any given situation. It also turned on the anger switch for those who hated the church and what it had done to them and their families.

Even though it was only a symbol of power, and it frequently opened doors that would otherwise have been shut to me, I soon learned that it was also a false power. As a symbol, it created an expectation and suddenly I was obligated to

live up to that expectation, regardless of the situation. Many of us have been in the same situation as the lady in the story above. And most of us have had at least one instance of acting just like she did.

Announcing who you are before you have time to “BE” in any situation robs you of your power. In a few situations, yelling and screaming at another driver is totally appropriate. But doing so when you have already created a judgement about who you are and an expectation about how you should react is not the best course of action.

And it is true that cars plastered with Jesus, and Fish, and Crosses and Cowboys with Crosses create an expectation that the drivers will conduct themselves with extra care and courtesy. And when they don’t….well, you know what happens inside you.

Invariably, or maybe as a result of selective perception, Austin’s worst and most aggressive drivers seem to be bearing Christian symbols on their cars or around their necks. The best also wear the same symbols. Based on my own experience, it is clear to me that my life was enriched when I did not use Christian symbols to set up expectations for people to assume how I was to behave.

I’m sure there are people right here in Cedar Park who still remember when I made a bad traffic call and broke a rule, but they did not know I was a Christian when I did it.

And there is no better compliment I can receive than when someone notices something I experience or do and tells me I should be a minister because I am doing good things to and for other people.

Christians do not have the right of way. Period. In fact, we should instinctively seek to be last. But announcing to the whole world who you are in traffic is just creating more trouble for yourself and further damaging the already dim reputation of Christians in America.

Chuck and Karen Robison broadcast a Consciousness interview show locally and internationally. Their work can be found at