More Than Bumper Stickers
Christopher B. Harbin
Dt 11:18-28; Ps 46; Mt. 7:21-29; Rm 1:16-17; 3:22b-31
Seen any good bumper stickers lately? Bumper stickers tell us something about what their users think is important. I've seen several of interest lately: "Visualize using your turn signal." "Be Alert; The World Needs More Lerts." "God still wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts." "Heading in the wrong direction? God allows U-turns." "When Jesus said, 'Love your enemies,' he didn't mean kill them." "Separate church and hate." "I like your Jesus. It's Christians I can't stand." "Are you as close to Jesus as you are to my bumper?" "Jesus is God with skin on." "Jesus is Lord."
Paul begins Romans speaking of faith as something he was willing to proclaim as blatantly as we might use bumper stickers. "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God…." He did not follow that with a trite, pithy expression to slap on the back of an ox cart or chariot, however. He went on to describe in detail how the grace of God in Christ Jesus made a real difference in our coming to God with confidence and repentance. Like we do with Jesus' words, we want to choose a select part of his proclamation of faith and ignore the rest.
Liberals have been accused of doing just that in bumper sticker doctrinal practice. We have selected at times those elements of the gospel which sound and feel good as it relates to helping others. We emphasize Jesus' love for the sinner, care for the poor, and desire to help the sick. We worry with education, housing, and other social elements of the gospel, and just never quite get around with some of the more unpleasant aspects of the gospel: Hell is a reality. If one does not choose a relationship with God, one is choosing to live without God for all of eternity.
Conservatives, on the other hand, have been accused of just the same with their own bumper sticker doctrine. We have reduced the gospel to a pet series ...
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