Imagine this scene:
Hot tears stream down your face as you drive home from the funeral of your best friend’s mother. She was killed by a careless driver while walking to her favorite deli on her lunch break. Your mind reels as you try to understand why such a senseless thing could happen to such an amazing woman. She had been like a second mother and mentor to you.
Your thoughts slowly digress from the funeral to some of your own crises. You ponder your parents and their recent separation, which transpired shortly after your family discovered your dad was addicted to ecstasy and meth. Or the phone call you received three days ago from your hometown’s county jail informing you that your brother has taken up residence there. And of course, there’s the nagging fact that if don’t get your GPA up you’ll lose your only scholarship.
As your mind ruminates over your seemingly hopeless life, a car to your left speeds up ahead of you and without signaling, turns into your lane, cutting you off. You notice the car’s bumper is adorned with one of those silver fish you’ve seen before. "What’s up with these fish?" You ask yourself. You remember hearing that Christians put them on their cars to "share their faith," whatever that means. You only wish they would share the road.
Your eyes then gravitate towards a message below the fish, and that’s when you see it. A bumper sticker that reads: "TOO BLESSED TO BE DEPRESSED!" You let out a bitter, angry laugh at the suggestion that your depressed spirit would not be, if only you were “Blessed.” You wonder if this driver believes being blessed is somehow associated with being a Christian. "Because if it is," you reason, "There’s no way I want anything to do with the kind of people or their God who can offer such hollow statements, especially with all the crap I’m dealing with.”
The first time I read the "Too Blessed to be Depressed" bumper sticker, I was sad … maybe a little depressed myself. "Christian" bumper stickers—why are they used? Perhaps they are displayed in an attempt to evangelize or convince others of divine truths. I’m not sure, but may I suggest these stickers may at times be doing more damage in our mission to represent Christ in a hurting world than our silence ever has.
Sometimes it’s beneficial to attempt to take a different look at our Christian rhetoric and wonder how others may interpret it. Here are a few small sample phrases that find their home on some of our bumpers:
"Real Men Love Jesus" Do we honestly believe that men around the globe who don’t love Jesus, or haven’t even considered loving Him, will read this and come to the conclusion, "What’s that? I’m not a real man!? Well, I better follow that guy to find out how to love Jesus!"
And secondly, the last time I watched the movie Pinocchio; I never saw Gepeto threaten Pinocchio with: "You know son, you’ll never be a real boy until you start loving me! [insert evil laugh here]." Jesus doesn’t do that either; so should His followers?
“God Created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." Actually, God did create Adam and Steve. He also created people named Albert, Tina, Chad, Lily, Hannah, Judson, Methuselah and yes probably somewhere in the world—Gepeto. Jokes aside, do we naïvely think that the deep reasons people choose one sexual preference over another will be remedied by a clichéd rhyme, hinting at biblical principles? How does displaying this message communicate to the homosexual community (or any community or individual for that matter) that Christians love them completely unconditionally? (*cough* the way Jesus loves ALL of us *cough*.) How does throwing this phrase around reflect Jesus, who defended a woman caught in adultery and put on death row (John 8:7) and feasted with the spiritual outcasts of his day (Matthew 9:10)?
"Christians Aren’t Perfect … Just Forgiven!" Ummm, here’s a thought: when has anybody thought that Christians are perfect? If anything, it seems this perfect, clean-cut, have-it-all together image is one that the rest of the world (perhaps justifiably) believes we Christians try to portray as ourselves (consider the “Adam/Steve” sticker). Maybe we’re not actually portraying our imperfections, so the world can see God’s work in us.
Secondly, when did Jesus define the identities of his Kingdom’s citizens as simply: "just forgiven." That sure doesn’t offer much hope for an exciting life here on earth, as a follower of Christ.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the space to comment on other bumper stickers like, "GO TO CHURCH—Don’t Wait For The Hearse To Take You" or "The Big Bang Theory: God Spoke and BANG it Happened." Please, don’t get me wrong, in no way am I trying to belittle or condemn those who have such stickers on their vehicles. But I can’t help wondering if the use of these stickers (whether from sincere motives or not) are pushing people farther away from receiving Jesus’ message by means of cheapening it through misrepresentation?