When we were in England, we saw several “roundabouts” which delineated the proper route to take at, what we in the United States would call, an intersection.
It is important to follow the signs, and this one was one of the more clear-cut signs that we encountered.
Society sets out these signs to dictate to us how to travel, how to negotiate from one place to another, how to get us where we want to go via the safest route available.
It is clear that the land planners have concluded that it is appropriate for the proper flow of traffic that vehicles on the highway move in one direction on that part of the road, the vehicles exiting where appropriate to continue with their trip. While some people may find it offensive to have their direction of travel dictated by “the government”, there can be no real opposition to the concept that the direction of travel at that spot on the highway must conform to the roundabout’s directive or there will be serious mishaps with property damage and potential loss of life.
Steven Wright, the erudite American scientist and humorist described travel in this way:
“When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.”
While this is certainly true on the highway, his statement could also be speaking of a wider application, such as a consideration of whether your positions and opinions are in the mainstream or in opposition to society.
In thinking about the Christian life, I would submit that Mr. Wright’s comment is spot on. If we are following the crowd, if we are following the dictates of the culture, if we are joining in with society’s standards, values and positions, everything might be coming our way, but we are in the wrong lane – we are not on the road to righteousness, and we are not on the path of a life with Christ that leads to eternal life.
Rather than following the crowd, the Christian would do well to remember what God says in Isaiah 55:8-9:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
In other words, as Christians we must not presuppose that our culture’s standards, ethics, values and morals are those of the Almighty God. He is above our finite world and His ways are very different than ours.
Mark Twain expressed this thought:
“When you find yourself on the side of the majority it’s time to pause and reflect.”
Jesus talked about the majority position and its popularity when He said:
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
The fact that our ways are not those of God is highlighted by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Jesus provides a glimpse into what God blesses, and illustrates that God’s ways are counter-cultural to be sure. Here are just a few of the Beatitudes as found in Matthew 5, and I am using the Amplified Bible for this quotation:
Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever] [Luke 6:20-23].
Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they shall be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted]. [Isaiah 61:2]
Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the meek (or humble, gentle) [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they shall inherit the earth. [Psalm 37:11]
Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they shall be [completely] satisfied.
So, what direction are you going? What path are you following?
Be counter—cultural. Follow Jesus. Take the roundabout that leads to the narrow path, and you will be blessed. Jesus said it, so you can believe it.
Father, help me to follow You as I live in this world. May my walk reflect Your ways even if that means it runs totally counter to society’s mandate. May I have the strength and will to follow You, through the power of the Holy Spirit.