The 2004 film Collateral follows a Los Angeles cabdriver named Max who is taken hostage by Vincent, a hitman, and forced to drive him to each of his targets. Throughout the night, Max reluctantly obeys Vincent’s instructions. A few times he attempts to escape but, by means of threats and violence, remains Vincent’s hostage. A significant portion of the film consists of the dialogue between Max and Vincent with Max at the wheel and Vincent in the back seat. One of the memorable scenes occurs when Max finally begins to drive his cab again. It is not entirely true that Max has been driving the cab until this moment. While he has indeed been the one behind the wheel; it has been Vincent who has been dictating where he drives. A highly aggressive back seat driver, if you will. The scene shows Max taking back control of his life, which is underlined when he refers to Vincent as the “sociopath in my back seat”.
In a way, this scene does an excellent job of capturing how sin and Satan often work in our lives. They threaten us with things such as missed pleasure, not fitting in, or other such consequences if we do not cave to their will. By using these threats, they become the same kind of back seat drivers as Vincent was in the film.
However, this is not the end of the story because though we may be servants of sin, we do not have to remain so thanks to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Paul writes in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Christ gives us a choice: to let sin and Satan continue to drive our lives from the back seat, or to take control of our life by giving it to God who does not want to control us, but for us to allow Him to shape us into the Christ-like individual He created us to be. What’s more, He wants to give us a corporate identity as part of the Church, the body of Christ. Put differently, the decision we face is how we are going to drive our lives: as hostages to sin, or willing servants of God?
It is not easy to recognize and call out Satan and our sin as noisy passengers in the back seat, yet when we do, God throws them out and takes up residence within us. Make no mistake, they will try to get back in the car any way that they can, but, because we have been set free, it is our decision whether or not to let them back in. God will help and support us in making the right decision, but He won’t force it on us for, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart—these O, God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17). God wants willing obedience, not forced servitude.
Thanks to God, we have a choice. We are in the driver’s seat. It is up to us whether we are controlled by the sociopath in our back seat or if we take hold of the freedom that God has called us to in Him.