My car has very few identifiable marks. There are no bumper stickers, no license plate frames, and certainly no vanity license to give even a hint of who the car might belong to. Maybe it’s a part of my desire to exude mystery and intrigue. Maybe I’m just lazy and cheap. Regardless of the reason my car is free from the adornment featured on many vehicles nowadays.
My musings on cars, and the lack of flashiness that mine possessed, occurred to me as I was spending another morning driving down the Orange County freeway. I’m not sure when cars become a canvas for furthering our personal expression but somewhere along the way they did. You can find out a lot about a person by reading their car. Often times you’ll learn a person’s political believes, favorite bands, religious adherence, sport team’s allegiance and even sometimes their brand choice for personal computers. An object that was intended to get us from Point A to Point B is now another opportunity to achieve status in the minds of the world. With it, we convey the groups that we belong to, espouse our personal philosophies and challenge others to disagree. It’s just another way that we advance our agenda. Even “Christian” bumper stickers are usually us-focused. They rarely convey the grace and justice of God. Instead, they are almost singularly about our religious experience.
It’s interesting to me that we use our cars to convey membership in a certain club, to express commitments to certain belief, but we rarely use our time to build relationships that could do the same. It’s almost like we want the car to speak for us, which of course it was never meant to do. It might convey status but it can never show love. It may identify membership but it can never illuminate grace. It may preach philosophies but it can never be a messenger of good news.
Using our cars as a status symbol, as way to further demonstrate our commitment to God is a good thing, but let us be wary less it become a substitution for the real thing.