While I’m not a huge NASCAR fan, I have been to a race and know some of the personalities. I was at a race about 10 years ago in Martinsville when Tony Stewart lost a tire on the track. Most Americans know that Tony Stewart was driving a car a couple of months ago on a dirt track and hit a man (Kevin Ward, Jr.) when the man wrecked and got out of his car and walked in front of Stewart’s car. The man died. A grand jury found there was not enough evidence to indict Stewart. When the District Attorney talked about why the grand jury failed to indict, he mentioned that toxicology reports showed that Ward had a large amount of marijuana in his system – ‘enough to impair judgement’ according to the DA. That could explain why you would walk into the path of an oncoming car.
The family read a statement after the DA that said the focus should be on Tony Stewart’s action on the track, not Ward’s. The family is obviously grieving deeply. The statement certainly sounded as if they will be filing a civil suit against Tony Stewart.
The Stewart/Ward incident is a microcosm of our American society. People are rarely willing to admit fault and take the blame for anything. It happens in government and it happens in everyday life. It happens at work and in church. In many churches, pastors blame the congregation and the congregation blames the pastor.
I believe this attitude is a major stumbling block in becoming a Christian. It’s why pastors who call people to repent of their sin are called judgemental and hateful and some kind of phobic. The progressive 21st century church calls people into the church and tells them they are OK. They don’t call people into the church to be forgiven of their sin. They call them into the church to be welcomed, accepted, and included telling the sinner that God loves them just as he or she is. While that is true of God, it’s not the whole Gospel. The Gospel includes repentance. The Gospel calls us to turn from sin. The Gospel is Good News, but the best of the good news is not just that God loves you, welcomes, you, and includes you, but that God will save you. And one cannot be saved without admitting fault. 1 John 1:9 says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
Where do you stand? Are you always making excuses and looking to blame others, or are you willing to humble yourself and say, “God, I admit that I need a Savior. I admit that I am guilty. I no longer want to justify my sin. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sin and I ask you to forgive me of my sin because of Jesus. I understand that I need to make some changes in my life and I can’t do it without you. I ask you to help me day by day to make decisions that honor you. If and when I fail, forgive me and gently set me back on your path. Help me to live for you and help others to see the change you have made in my life and may they glorify you. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen. Amen.