GETTING OVER THE ‘ROUTE 66 PROBLEM’
By LORETTA FULTON
It’s not just Darryl Tippens or others with ties to Route 66 who have a “Route 66 problem.”
That problem falls on the shoulders of people all over the world who suffer from self-centeredness, Tippens said as guest speaker for the August meeting of the Abilene Association of Congregations. Tippens, retired University Distinguished Scholar at Abilene Christian University, was born in Elk City, Okla., which is home to a Route 66 museum, and grew up in Weatherford, just down the highway from Elk City. He has lived in other places close to the historic Mother Road or Main Street of America as it has been dubbed. He listened to the Route 66 song and watched the TV show that was popular in the 1960s.
“I actually grew up thinking I was more or less at the center of the universe,” Tippens confessed.
But he is far from alone in suffering the “Route 66 problem.
“I think this is a worldwide problem,” he said.
Many modern day Christians are guilty of believing their religion is a Western one, ignoring the first 700 years of Christianity when it was predominantly an Asian religion. Today, many mainstream denominations have more adherrents in other parts of the world than they do in the United States or other Western nations.
With 41,000 different Christian denominations spread all over the world, it’s time to rethink the word “unity,” Tippens said, and get over thinking we are at the center of the universe.
Scripture celebrates diversity, Tippens noted, and Christians should, too. The word “gentile” is used more than 100 times in the New Testament. It comes from a root word meaning “ethnic.” Today, there are 13,000 ethnic groups in the world, Tippens noted. They can’t all be located at “the center of the universe.”
Tippens quoted from a hymn by Brian Wren titled, “When Christ Was Lifted From the Earth.” In the Episcopal Church hymnal, it is listed in a section titled “Christian Responsibility,” implying that Christians should view humanity as Christ did. Lyrics to the hymn follow:
1 When Christ was lifted from the earth,
his arms stretched out above
through every culture, every birth,
to draw an answering love.
2 Still east and west his love extends
and always, near or far,
he calls and claims us as his friends
and loves us as we are.
3 Where generation, class, or race
divide us to our shame,
he sees not labels but a face,
a person, and a name.
4 Thus freely loved, though fully known,
may I in Christ be free
to welcome and accept his own
as Christ accepted me.
Darryl Tippens is retired University Distinguished Scholar at Abilene Christian University.