The story is not mine, and I would have missed it except for Suzy's kindness in forwarding it to me. But it makes an interesting point.

It tells of a good citizen who was being tailgated by a stressed-out woman on a busy street. Suddenly, the light at the intersection just in front of them turned yellow. The good citizen did the right thing by stopping at the crosswalk – even though he could have beaten the red light by gunning it through the intersection.

The tailgating woman hit the roof — and her horn. She was screaming in frustration because she had missed her chance to get through the intersection. As she was still in mid-rant — alternately pounding the steering wheel and gesturing to the fellow in front of her — she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer.

The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He put handcuffs on her. He took her to the police station, where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a police captain approached the cell and opened the door.

The woman was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects. He said, "I'm very sorry for my mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cursing a blue streak. Then I noticed the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the 'What Would Jesus Do?' bumper sticker, the 'Follow Me to Sunday School' bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car."

Ouch! Somewhere through the centuries, an idea has gained currency that says we can be Christians in the same way most people are Democrats and Republicans, Rotarians and Lions Club members. We show up for meetings, pay our dues, and wear the insignia. For the most part, however, it is acceptable to be "just like everybody else." We're devout Christians on Sunday mornings, but we curse or flirt or cheat or tell racist jokes the other six and a half days of the week.

We have so institutionalized the Christian faith that membership has come to count for conversion. It isn't just Vito Corleone of "Godfather" fame who could live as a criminal so long as he attended Mass and gave gifts to his church.

If one's faith is more than self-delusion, it must inform her life in all the routine and ordinary events of life. Even at traffic lights.

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? But even if you do suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will, than for doing wrong. (1 Peter 3:13-17 NRS)