Having lived just a couple hundred yards from the River Parks for over 30 years has brought with it many benefits not the least of which is enjoying countless bike rides there. There have been regular improvements to the trails over the years from dirt paths, to gravel trails, to paving and now separate lanes for walkers and bikers. This most recent improvement of separate lanes has been a huge plus as traffic has increased over the years. It has also brought with it frustration and perhaps my biggest pet peeve in life (right behind those who come to a complete stop in merge lanes instead of speeding up to actually merge).
On a bike ride earlier this week I came across 3 people walking shoulder to shoulder across the entire bike side of the trail totally blocking all bicyclists. As I went off the trail to pass I politely mentioned they might consider moving to the walking side instead of being on the bike side. For the record, this was just the most recent of literally hundreds of such encounters. That particular group was polite in their response and moved to the walking path. Just as common has been those with snide remarks like “#@** who died and made you king/boss/god/etc.”. After crossing to the other side of the river I came upon a lady who had set up her lawn chair covering half of the bike side and her son was playing in front of her with their dog on one of those extendable leashes which had much more than the entire bike side blocked. As I slowly passed mentioning they might move to the other side the mom retorted “sorry, my son wasn’t paying attention”. Truth be told, her son was paying attention to how her mom was “breaking the rules” and he was, understandably, simply doing likewise.
Yes, circumstances like these are frustrating to me, but I truly don’t lose sleep over them. But as I have witnessed these “rule breakers” over the years I have come to the realization that many of us, including myself at times, are guilty of similar actions and attitudes in the church. A friend posted an article earlier this week on facebook in which the writer’s point was that we need to mind our own business in the church citing the rebuke of looking at the speck in the other person’s eye and the need, instead, to get the beam out of your own eye. I totally agree that we must first and always be aware of our own weaknesses and watch out for sin in my life. This philosophy/theology is quickly becoming the prevalent school of thought when it comes to accountability and confronting within the church – MYOB!
We are most certainly not to judge, that lofty role is the sole realm of God and His alone. But here is where I believe we are shooting ourselves in the foot, check that, in the heart when it comes to accountability and discipleship within the church. The point of that verse in Luke 6:42 is exhorting us to be careful and humble regarding holiness in our own lives first in order to then “see clearly to remove the piece of sawdust from another believer’s eye”.
It is only recently that the PC mantra of MYOB has garnered traction in the church. Historically this has not only never been the case, it is simply not scriptural. In fact, our charge to speak to/confront/challenge (insert whatever word works for you), an errant brother or sister goes so far in more than a couple of places to hold us responsible for their death if we do not confront sin – Ez. 3:16 is one example. And by the way, I embrace the same general list of sins listed in scripture and identified by the church for the better part of 1950 years, not the abridged list found to be more popular today in many churches.
So back to the River Trails, why make two paths with the designation of one being walking and one being for bikes. Just for fun? To be mean and controlling? Just because they can? No, but because after decades of experience they realized how many accidents could be prevented by having separate paths. I can attest to this having been a significant problem historically. Take the lady in the lawn chair and her son and dog. Had that been a group of much faster road bike riders coming over the rise and not having enough time to stop or dive off into the grass it could have been disastrous for all involved. Rules are there to help us, protect us and in the case of biblical rules, to save us from hell. God knows that sin hurts us, damages us and separates us from Himself, so in His gracious goodness he gave us laws to live by to save us from damnation. Damning “the rules” hurts us, perhaps others and ultimately brings it back on ourselves.