A week or so ago I was involved in closing a road. It was in the pedestrian precinct and was to stop any wayward glass falling on the many shoppers walking by. Did I mention it was a Saturday? Anyway we closed this road for the safety of the public and for some people you would have thought we had shot their loved ones. It was a classic case of people being so consumed by themselves that they forget the world is filled with other people. The ‘diversion’ we had created added maybe 30 seconds extra walking time to their journey, yet many saw this as inconvenient. ‘I’ve just come out of hospital and you won’t let me down the road’ one lady chirped. ‘That’s right love’ I was tempted to reply ‘We knew you’d been in hospital so we set up this just for you!’ Anyone who took the time to ask was presented with the rational reason for the closure and many saw that it was for the safety of the public.
Others were so put off that they ended their journey to town there and then, ignorant that if they extended their journey a measly 30 seconds they would reach their destination. Others knew how long the diversion would take but still chose to turn back. ‘By jove it really does take the biscuit!’ commented one tracksuit wearing passer by, although his words may have been a lot ruder.
It made me think about the way I react to some situations. I might imply that I’m unselfish and loving, but truthfully? I am the centre of my universe. It’s an overused metaphor but deep down I see myself as the star of my own movie, centred on and starring me. You? You are outside of my sphere of consciousness right now so effectively you don’t exist. Ultimately this is more than just garden variety selfishness, it’s why Eve was able to be convinced that she knew better than God, it’s why Samson got a trim, it’s pervy King David. It’s pre-fishfood Jonah. It’s Peter times three on the night Jesus died, it’s every time you wake up and don’t pray. It’s in church when you are more bothered about those noisy kids or smelly tramps than you are about centring on Jesus. It’s every argument I’ve ever had. It’s me, it’s you. It is pride.
Jesus told a story about how people would receive His message, His Good News. He said that He would pass His message to the world freely like a farmer scattering seeds on a path. Some seeds fell on the hard path and the birds quickly devoured them, others fell on the gravel and sprouted quickly but had no roots and when the sun beat down it had no connection to the fertile soil. Other seeds fell amongst weeds and were strangled as they grew. Yet some seed fell on good soil, laid good roots and produced a harvest. Jesus explained that the seeds that fell on the path were like people who heard the message but had it stolen away from them by Satan. The seeds that fell on the gravel like people who initially and quickly accepted the message but didn’t lay down good roots, so as soon as the first trouble comes, or road closure, they can’t handle it. The weeds that strangle the next lot of seeds are worry and stress that choke the life out of us and the seed that falls in good ground… well, you do the math. There are lots of reasons to be annoyed by an inconvenient road closure and, as I learned, lots of responses to it. Pride stopped some people in their tracks and ruined their day. There are lots of responses to Jesus, accept Him or reject Him just don’t do it in the name of pride.