The Mercedes commercial, in which the driver does not see objects coming, but the car does, is disturbing to me. You know the commercial. “I didn’t notice I was swerving, but my car did.” “I didn’t realize I was nodding off, but my car did.”

On the surface, it is simply a commercial to illustrate some advanced features of Mercedes’ new car. The ability of the car to sense coming obstructions and automatically avoid them. Which is obviously a good thing when it comes to accidental circumstances.

But a viewer could interpret the commercial to mean that it is not necessary to bother paying attention. And many drivers cannot afford to pay any less attention. “I was sending a text to a friend and didn’t see the car in front of me, but my car did.” “I was talking to a friend in the back seat and didn’t know I was swerving into oncoming traffic, but my car did.”

Odd, is it not, that an improvement in an automobile that can potentially prevent accidents and save lives is also a potential excuse for continuing the same activities while driving that cause more accidents and deaths. Sad as it may be, people will use the advanced feature much like they use cruise control – a feature to enable them to do unnecessary things while driving.

Which is much the same with many things. Such as the Bible, the Koran, and other sacred texts. Texts which were written (by whatever means or guidance) to guide people along a path toward spiritual fulfillment. Yet some readers insist on using these texts – in and out of context – to justify their own actions that most assuredly are not spiritual or fulfilling. The very scriptures intended to bring hope, peace, inner tranquility, and spiritual assuredness are distorted to excuse acts of violence, terrorism, and war.

The examples in the Mercedes commercial were appropriate examples to demonstrate the self-correcting feature. The implication of the dialogue was objectionable, but the intent was honorable. The misinterpretation as a result illustrates one of the problems with the human condition. As humans, we have the uncanny ability to take things given to us to with the intention of improving our chance of living through the world we have abused, and use them to further our selfish, lazy endeavors to do what we want, without consideration of others.

Fortunately, by the grace of God, as humans we have the moral capacity to know when we are doing wrong. But as a result of free will, we also have the capacity to make wrong choices and screw up. The key is to succumb to God’s extended arms of grace before falling prey to the temptations constantly before us. To follow the Scriptures as God intended and not as an excuse to satisfy our selfish desires.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 2:3 (NRSV)

Peace be with you.