An eerie quiet settled over the accident scene. From my driver’s seat, I could smell the toxicity of burnt rubber mixed with leaking engine fluid. Adjusting my rear-view mirror, I was relieved to see that the blood I was tasting was only from the impact of biting my own lip.
As I mentally pried my hands off the steering wheel, the sound of crunching metal still rang in my ears. One minute I had been crossing the small, familiar intersection and the next, another car had T-boned my front driver’s fender. He had shot through the stop sign, which had been there for years.
As I attempted to get out, I found my door bent shut. Climbing out on the passenger side, I said a quick prayer. I would need clarity of mind, especially since all of the investigation would be in Mandarin. It was my first accident and I was glad it wasn’t my fault.
About the time the policeman arrived, I saw one of Mark’s Taiwanese co-workers getting out of his own car. Mark had called him after talking to me and I exhaled a sigh of relief knowing that Hubert would know what to do.
Over the next coming weeks, Hubert continued to help us navigate the Taiwanese legal waters. It seemed that although the other driver admitted to running the stop sign, and witnesses had verified the story, the fault was mine for being in the country. Accepted Chinese thought agreed that if I had been at home in America, the accident would not have occurred.
After considerable weeks of anger and haggling, nothing changed. Culture and the law stood firm and each driver was responsible for their own damages.
Looking back over the incident, it took me longer to repair my injured sense of justice than it did to replace my totaled car. Yet, I learned a lot about cultural norms and the value of citizenship.
As Kingdom citizens, we are each given a gift of righteousness. No matter what stop sign we run through in our lives, our Righteous Judge grants us pardon without reference to the crime (Psalm 103:12; Hebrews 9:26). Punishment for the blame has already been served by Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Once this blanket forgiveness takes place, penitence for the crime is no longer necessary (Hebrews 10:18).
The problem is that the devil hates this arrangement. Although he is the foreigner, he also acts as accuser, continually screaming about how unfair this is (Revelation 12:10). So loudly in fact, that we not only begin to agree with him, but to allow him to heap the guilt back our way. Rather than living in thankfulness for our citizenship, we put ourselves back underneath the Law as if we too were foreigners.
Although Christ has canceled out our debt of keeping all the rules, we still sink back into submitting ourselves to those old laws (Colossians 2:14, 20). After all, isn’t our evaluation based upon our actions?
As a matter of fact, it is not.
Whether we feel like citizens or not, Christ has become our righteousness. It is “by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us wisdom…and righteousness and sanctification” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Relax and look to Him. When you are an heir of the King, you get special treatment – no matter how many stop signs you run.