Bro. Nathan Barth
For many reasons, people fear some things more than others. It may be that the things faced most often are comfortable and feel the least threatening. On the other hand, the things that occur infrequently, but are deadly when they actually do happen, strike greater fear in the majority of people. Statistics provide an interesting perspective and show that which potentially life-threatening incidents are more likely to occur. Of the following things ranked in the order of American lives claimed each year, one might be surprised to know which are the deadliest:
The deadliest are automobiles, which kill 117 Americans a day, or nearly 43,000 a year. Then comes flu, which (along with pneumonia, its associated disease) kills 36,000 people. Third is guns, resulting in 26,000 deaths. Fourth is food-borne illness, killing 5,000 annually. And finally, terrorism, which in a typical year claims virtually no U.S. lives — with horrific exceptions like 9/11/2001.1
Many people, no doubt, remember when they first got their driver’s license and how careful they were each time they got behind the wheel. However, after a few years, the carefulness gradually began to recede. Driving to the store, work, etc., gradually became a less cautious experience as in the beginning. Over a period of time, the danger of driving or riding in a vehicle was pushed to the back of the mind. At one time, it was very fresh in the mind that while driving or riding in a car, one could be moments away from being injured or killed. One car ride after another, these reminders of potential danger that in the past encouraged caution and alert carefulness, became replaced with thoughts of quickly getting to the destination. This decrease in carefulness causes changes such as riding without a seatbelt, speeding, talking on the phone and texting, and driving while tired. Confidence and complacency grow with every successful trip, until even with the statistics below, there is no longer a fear attached to it.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in year 2015 there were roughly 6,296,000 police reported crashes in the USA. This translates to approximately 17,250 accidents per day in the United States in year 2015.2
There were 34,439 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2016 in which 37,461 deaths occurred.3
In a six-year span from 2007 – 2012, 196,236 people died in auto accidents. That’s more than the number of people who live in Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah. Imagine a whole city wiped out in six years.4
Shifting gears…what is one of the greatest dangers to a person that has accepted Christ as their Savior and has been walking in all the light they know? It is getting complacent in their experience with Christ and failing to remain sober and vigilant. 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”
Spiritually speaking, how many car accidents have there been, and how many times have they been fatal?
The question is, what are we doing to ensure that our car isn’t in an accident? How well are we driving our spiritual cars? Are we obeying all the spiritual traffic signs and lights? When the pastor pulls us over and gives a warning, do we listen or continue to say “it will never happen to me”? In biblical times, they didn’t have cars, but Paul warns in 1 Timothy 1:18-19, to “..war a good warfare, holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:”. In a spiritual sense, shipwreck is the equivalent of a car accident. Warring a good warfare and holding faith, and a good conscience are the ways to prevent a terrible accident. In the physical sense car accidents and shipwrecks can occur out of the driver’s control, but in a spiritual sense, God has made every provision for us so that we will never have a fatal accident. 2 Peter 1:10 lets us know that if we diligently make our calling and election sure, and follow all the instruction given earlier in that chapter, we will never fall.
Anyone, regardless of their position in the Kingdom, can have a spiritual wreck – even pastors can have spiritual car accidents as well. This usually happens if the warning bells of the Holy Spirit are ignored and they justify themselves in doing wrong. In Proverbs 21:2, it says, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” The wise man warns us in Song of Solomon 2:15 to watch out for the “little foxes” and sad to say, even he himself falls prey to their spoil.
We can look back to the Garden of Eden and see how complacency worked on Adam and Eve. We will find Eve near the forbidden tree in Genesis 3:1-6, having a conversation with Satan. God had faithfully warned her not to eat from it, lest they surely die. The question we can ask is, why was Eve even near something that could kill her spiritually? Do you ever find yourself getting too close to something that can kill you spiritually? You could find yourself in a fatal spiritual car accident because you no longer see sin as exceeding sinful. What used to be a tree of horror to Eve became something to be desired. She no longer saw the danger and evil of disobeying God, but began to doubt in her heart what God had said. God never said the tree would be pleasant, taste good, or make one wise, but He said one thing: don’t partake of it. She became enticed by listening to the enemy of her soul and had a spiritual fatal car crash.
Paul warns that the same danger that happened to her could happen to us. 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” The simplicity that is in Christ means obeying. It wasn’t her lack of knowledge of right and wrong, but it was her carelessness, and becoming complacent. This caused her to not take the precaution of avoiding temptation when she walked through the Garden of Eden. The same held true for Adam, because he too, freely partook of spiritual death. Adam was not deceived, but he ate from the tree because his wife did first. This is why we need to be careful of who we associate with, because they could cause us to have a car crash. 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”
If one finds themself not being as careful in the things of God as when they were first “translated”, (Colossians 1: 13 “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son :”) they should refocus quickly because they are heading for a car accident. Unfortunately, through the “deceitfulness of sin” many people do not return to God after they have a spiritual crash. Hebrews 3:13 says, “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Many develop a false sense of security and before they know it, days will turn into months and months will turn into years, and eventually they will end up in eternity unprepared.
How many souls are lost right now in Hell that once had a fiery experience with God? Our desire is to see no one become another statistic, but rather take heed to the warnings of the Holy Spirit! 1 Corinthians 10:12 says, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Remember it is not how we start in life that is most important, but how we finish that will really matter. Drive safely because you are only given one car. Here is the safety motto for how to keep yourself from having a car crash: Deuteronomy 10:12, “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”†
- Nicholas D. Kristof, “117 Deaths Each Day”, The New York Times, March 13, 2004