Bumper Stickers

Published on May 27th, 2015 by Pastor Ed Hlad | 0
Bumper Stickers

Bumper Stickers

Although I refuse to put them on my cars, I like bumper stickers.  Some of them can say quite a bit about what a person is going through or what they believe.  A while back a friend of mine was going through a difficult time and she vented her frustrations with this one, “Grow Dope. Plant a Man”.  The other day I read this political doozy, “I put America in the toilet.  Elect Hillary and she will pull the handle”.  Not saying whether or not I agree with that one, but it certainly lets you know how this person feels.  Bumper stickers do not have to be negative. For instance, “Positive Vibrations Bring Good Manifestations”.  That is pretty deep for a bumper sticker and I am wondering how it fits with their horn honking at the driver in front of them for not moving fast enough when the light turns green.  But that is just New Jersey positivity.  What I am afraid of is how many Christians tend to drift toward bumper sticker practical theology.  We tend to like short, pithy statements that we can use to help guide us in life.  In and of itself that is not a bad idea.  That is really what the book of Proverbs is all about.  But often what happens is that we tend to short circuit or misstate truths, we rob God of glory, or we make spiritual truths nothing more than self help statements.

For instance, “God never gives us anything we can’t handle”.  We often quote that to ourselves when we begin to feel overwhelmed by a circumstance.  It encourages us to buckle up, face each day with courage, and stand strong.  We may even include the Lord in our thinking by remembering that we can only handle these things through the strength and power of the Lord.  Just like the old song states, “Jesus and me, we are a majority”.  There is a little truth in all of that but when I look at the Word of God I see God putting people into situations where they were totally in over their heads.  They didn’t have a chance or a clue. This caused them to fall on their knees in total dependence upon a life saving God.  He often allowed them to blow a trumpet or pet a lion or wash in the Jordan but it was clear to them and it should be to us that God was the deliverer and they were along for the ride.  The goal wasn’t to build us up but to display the glory of almighty God.

How about this one, “You can’t love others until you love yourself”.  It sounds biblical and we can understand the apparent wisdom in what is being said.  It certainly feeds into how we all struggle with who we are and how our faults hurt others around us.  But isn’t the truth of the Word of God much deeper than that statement?  Isn’t the truth of the Word more about understanding the love of God in our lives and then loving others out of that love?  Doesn’t the Word of God always assume that we love ourselves too much? When I see myself in the love of Christ and standing in his righteousness then I am free to love others in the same way he loved me.  But spending time trying to love myself is futile because that act, in and of itself, proves that I love myself too much (think about that) and I cannot clean myself up apart from Christ.

This last one I have been meditating on this week as I will be preaching about it this Sunday… “Don’t worry, Rejoice”.  The worldly bumper sticker that comes close to this reads, “Don’t worry, be happy”.  That is wrong on so many levels but the more spiritual, “Don’t worry, Rejoice” is often a shortcut that can bring great pain.  My dad recently went to be with the Lord and with that there comes many questions about our future.  This is especially true for my mom.  To say to her, “Don’t worry, Rejoice” is almost cruel.  It is almost cruel because there is no context to the statement.  Paul, in Philippians 4, gives that kind of statement a lot of context.  Paul writes that we do not worry because the Lord is at hand.  That statement is packed with meaning.  It can mean that the Lord could come back at any time and therefore all of those questions will be moot or it can mean that the Lord is near and he is the answer to every question.  Those kinds of context filling truths give hope and lead us to trust the Lord and not worry.  Paul also speaks of the privilege of prayer and praying with thanksgiving.  What are we giving thanks for?  That he hears us?  That he will answer?  Yes to both of those questions.  But if we look at the greater context of Paul’s writings and the truths found earlier in Philippians 2 and 3 we see that we are also giving thanks for his inexpressible gift of the Lord Jesus and his work on the cross for us.  When we receive a gift that is inexpressible or indescribable our hearts are full of thanksgiving.  When we remind ourselves daily of the gift of the Lord Jesus our hearts are full of thanksgiving and not full of worry.  Paul tells us to think this way and to practice what we know is true.  He then promises that the God of peace will be with us…so go ahead…Rejoice and not worry.

The depth of context is so important.  Let me give you just a little more context because it helps cement these truths in our hearts.  We have already shared what Paul says in II Corinthians 9:15, speaking of the Lord Jesus, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift”.  Paul then expounds on that truth in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”  The truth of the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ not only overwhelms our hearts and fills it with thanksgiving but it assures us that all lesser needs will be met also.  The Lord is at hand.  He is so very near to us.  He has demonstrated his love for us through the sending of his Son.  So, “Don’t worry, Rejoice”.

Comments are closed.