Being nice or being kind?

Our eldest daughter is revisiting driving lessons now she is a mother to three boys and a fourth later this year. When she was 17 she fought “driving” – and her father sat next to her – as only teenagers can do.  But now she sees the benefit of driving her own family she wants to pass asap.

But the driving test requirements change.  So her driving instructor teaches “pass the test” driving, and she and I just “drive”.

I find the difference between “pass the test” driving and “driving” a great curiosity.

Reading the “body language” of other drivers (as seen by the movements of their cars) is not a test requirement.  Yet it keeps me safe every time I drive.  The signalling to let other drivers know what I am doing has – for the test – rules about when and when not.  Yet signalling to let others drivers know is about communication not a test.  And that communication keeps me safe every time as well.

So the “driving” that all drivers learn – after they pass their test and drive alone – seems to me undermined by the complete absence of “commonsense” leading up to the driving test.

I have learned quickly not to undermine the instructor and test preparation!

Our daughter wants to pass the test, not have endless debates about driving as her dad sees driving.  But it struck me how little I drive by rules, and how much I drive by road conditions, other road users, changed and changing roads, and changed and changing traffic volumes – and about my mood, my energy levels, my attention spans.

Being able to “read” others’ driving styles, and adapting to the immediate conditions outside my car means I work with the baseline “legal rules” – but have grown to make “real driving” the reason for the rules (not the other way around).

I think that most would agree that growing as a driver in this way is necessary.

So why is it that I meet so many Christians who still use the bible years after “being saved” (or passing the “eternal driving test”) just as they did as a “trainee Christian”?  Why do I meet so many Christians who use the bible as a daily rule book with a daily pass or fail?  Why is growing as a Christian not necessary or desirable?   And why does no one question that “that” is NOT becoming a disciple or follower (which misses  the point of “being saved”)?

The bible can and will support almost any and all personal preferences.  The bible does not provide a template for every little thing daily life brings our way.  Living as a Christian reliant on the bible for every answer is like driving always with the Highway Code to hand – always checking if it is okay to do this or that (and getting in the way of everyone else whilst finding out).  It is not driving, and it is not being a Christian as invited either by qualification or being saved.

I think the bible can be a wonderful thing separating us from the very God we seek within.  I think the bible and a fearful reliance on “being right” (as religion seeks to define “biblically”) is missing the point.  The bible does not promote being religious or being “right” in that way.  The bible promotes relationship.  And the best relationships come without fear, come with a growing desire for innocent nakedness, come without someone else’s definition of right or wrong …. But always come with intimacy and exploration.

Relationships are of freedom rather than rules … are of growth rather than established comfort zones … and are of real living and actual daily loving.  Relationships are about me!

And while the bible has much of that – I am not in the bible – I am not defined by the bible – I am unique and I am here in this present moment.  Moments that change me as moments should.

Following for me is a journey.  A journey WITH the bible – not BECAUSE OF the bible.

A following and journey that is alongside – in front of – behind – to the side – above and below.  A following that is neither hierarchical nor rule driven – but IS a following that depends on me.  A following that is NOT defined in words written over 2000 years ago – but a following that IS me today, tomorrow, and the day after that.

Our daughter will pass her test and then become a driver.  And if she doesn’t, there are plenty of other drivers who will read her driving “body language” and let her know she is getting in the way.

It puzzles me why Christians place so much emphasis on “being nice” to each other.

Being nice is not a biblical rule as far as I can tell.  But always “being nice”, I think, is the best way to promote NOT being a follower and NEVER becoming a disciple.

Being nice is different to being kind – being nice is something those who do NOT love each other do to each other (which – I think – is why I have yet to to find THAT invitation in the bible).

Whereas being kind because of love is something the bible invites.


2 thoughts on “Being nice or being kind?

  1. Amen, brother!
    I so take your point about driving. What got me very disillusioned at times in the old day job was that idea of “teaching to the exam”.
    You are so right about how we, as Christians, can misuse the bible.
    My favourite toddler story is “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”
    But that should be our life: a journey with all sorts of things (good and challenging) that we will come across. The thing to take on board is being ready for that, so we kit up with compass, map and marmade sandwiches etc. I guess the bible is not a bad travel guide!
    Hope you are staying warm and getting fully fit. Blessings.


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