No, rubbernecking is not some new way to make out that you’ve not yet tried. Instead, it’s the reason it took 11 hours to drive home from San Jose yesterday whereas it took us 7 hours to drive to San Jose on Friday.
Rubbernecking is the human inclination to slow down and look. To scornfully, guiltily gaze at the folly of others.
We really can’t stop ourselves from looking. Whether some poor soul has gotten a flat tire or their baby blew out a diaper: We must slow down enough to look.
We whisper to ourselves…
- I wonder what happened?
- A flat tire? What an idiot.
- [Looking at a fender bender] I wonder what happened?
- [Driving by a bad accident] I shouldn’t look. Kids don’t look. Look the other way. [Meanwhile, you always look.]
- I can’t believe all of these people slowing down to watch a guy change a diaper. Morons.
It’s morally wrong to look, we tell ourselves. We curse the rubbernecker for slowing everyone down just so they can look and they should just be minding their own business anyway.
And yet we are the rubbernecker. Our culture sends us one message… “Get there in good time!” while our nature forces us to cause the problem, “I feel guilty or looking, but I can’t stop myself.”
The Good Samaritan
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. Luke 10:30-33, emphasis mine
Some say the Bible is irrelevant to daily life today? Dude, Jesus is talking about rubbernecking. That’s quite literally my life on November 29th, 2015!
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Luke 10:34-35
See! Jesus said “Go and do likewise… DO NOT SLOW DOWN TRAFFIC TO LOOK!!!! Rubberneckers are the devil incarnate!”
Oh wait. He didn’t say that at all. While he poked fun at the rubbernecker scornfully, careful to insert the very people he’s talking to into his parable as the example of what not to do just to make sure they understood he was talking about them– he said that the polite inclination of minding your own business and driving by was also morally wrong.
We shouldn’t rubberneck. Nor should we mind our own business.
We should stop the car and help.
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:35-37
“Go and do likewise.” when you see a dad changing a poopy diaper on the side of I-5… stop and help. At the very least take the dirty diaper in your own car! Why? Not because it’s convenient. Not because it’ll get you there on time. Not because
The Counter-Culture Revolution of Jesus
When a 7 hour drive is turned into an 11 hour drive because of rubbernecking drivers you start to wonder, “Where is Jesus in all of this?”
And the reality is…. He’s right there on the side of the road waiting for you to stop. To get involved instead of driving by. “It’s not good for man to be alone in his car, listening to podcasts and staring at his clock.”
This is the revolution.
Culture says mind your own business.
Culture says that the safest thing to do is to stay in your own car.
Culture says don’t stop.
Culture says don’t even slow down.
But Jesus says stop and help.
Embrace his timing.
Embrace his agenda.
Don’t worry about yourself or your own timeline.
Worry about others. Worry about God’s timeline.
Go and do likewise.