Red Light, Yellow Light

O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.” – Isaiah 2:5

Not too long ago I pulled up to a blinking yellow light where everyone was treating it as a 4-way stop. Three or four cars deep on all sides, everyone was being very nice and orderly – one after the other – and to my astonishment they were all working very well together. Only one problem… it was a blinking yellow!  So what did I do? When the car in front of me went, instead of waiting for the next 3 cars to go, I went too. Because it was a blinking yellow, not a blinking red. What a joy it was to break up the party! As I pulled away from this lunch-time extravaganza, I watched in my rearview mirror as a portion of the line followers snapped out of their hypnotic gaze, realizing what was going on, and began treating the blinking yellow as it is meant to be treated. The only problem being, of course, that not everyone was on the same page. I’m sure they figured it out.

This fun little illustration offers a few lessons for Christians in our day:

1- We live in a world where it is becoming the norm to stop at a blinking yellow, so to speak. When truth is what makes you happy, or what seems to be working best at the time, the “truth” is bound to always be changing. But, of course, as Francis Schaeffer said somewhere, “no matter what a man may believe he cannot change the reality of what is.” In other words, the truth is a fixed given. The truth never changes, no matter what you believe and no matter what seems like it might work best at the time. Blinking yellow still means proceed with caution even when everyone else is treating it like it is a 4-way stop and, more importantly, every jot and tittle of God’s word is still true, no matter what is happening all around us.

2- When everyone is stopping at a blinking yellow it is quite disruptive to all of a sudden begin proceeding with caution, even though that is exactly what you are supposed to be doing. In other words, obedience to the truth is going to grow more disruptive in your family, at school, on the sports team, in the youth group, at church, at work, in your friend group, and beyond. As people all around us grow more accustomed to living according to lies, it goes without saying that living according to the truth is going to stand out a bit. And though this may be a bit uncomfortable for us, it is actually a great blessing for the world around us… “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house… let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

3- We  cannot be afraid to point out the fact that blinking yellow means proceed with caution. However, I should warn you to be careful… it is one thing to obey the truth for yourself, but when you start saying the truth out loud, acting like it is binding for all people (which it most certainly is), people can get out of sorts.

4- Enjoy yourself. It really was a delight to break up that stoplight party (or maybe I started the party). I was doing the right thing. And it was quite amusing to watch everyone try to figure out what was going on. On the other hand, sin is not funny. It is not funny to see sin’s destruction in the world or in your life or in the lives of those you love. But it really is a delight to walk in God’s ways… “The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart” (Psalm 19:8). So thank God for his grace, thank him for his commands, walk accordingly and enjoy yourself.


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