There’s a famous billboard that hangs along a congested highway that reads: “You aren’t stuck in traffic. You are traffic!” Good wit, good insight! How glibly we distance ourselves from a problem, whether it is our politics, our churches, the ecological problems on our planet, or almost anything else.

We aren’t, as we want to think, stuck in a bad political climate wherein we can no longer talk to each other and live respectfully with each other. Rather, we ourselves have become so rigid, arrogant and sure of ourselves that we can no longer respect those who think differently than we do. We are a bad political climate and not just stuck in one.

Likewise for our churches: We aren’t stuck in churches that are too self-serving and not faithful enough to the teachings of Jesus. Rather, we are Christians who too often ourselves compromise the teachings of Jesus out of self-interest. We aren’t stuck in our churches, we comprise those churches.

The same is true of the ecological challenges we face on this planet. We aren’t stuck on a planet that’s becoming oxygen-starved and a junkyard for human wastage. Rather, it’s we, not just others, who are too careless in how we are using up the earth’s resources and how we are leaving behind our waste.

Admittedly, this isn’t always true. Sometimes we are stuck in negative situations for which we bear no responsibility and within which, through no fault of our own, we are simply the unfortunate victim of circumstance and someone else’s carelessness, illness, dysfunction or sin. We can, for instance, be born into a dysfunctional

situation which leaves us stuck in a family and an environment that don’t make for easy freedom. Or sometimes simple circumstance can burden us with duties that take away our freedom. So, metaphorically speaking, we can be stuck in traffic and not ourselves be part of that traffic – though generally we are, at least partially, part of the traffic we’re stuck in.

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