Today’s thoughts come from the back of a car. The rear bumper, that is.
I have always had a bit of a fascination with bumper stickers. When we really think about it, the whole process of a bumper sticker is intriguing… Someone thinks a thought, then thinks about that thought. Then they think about all those other people who may think that same thought – and think about the connection point that thought provides. Then they think about ways in which they can get their thought out – to all those other thoughtful folks who might think their way of thinking is pretty thought-provoking. Then, one day, they are out driving, and their answer is right in front of them. I mean, what else do you do when you are waiting for a stoplight to turn – but notice the bumper of the car in front of you.
And that, my children, is where bumper stickers come from.
Now, some bumper stickers are meant to be funny. Some are meant to express pride or accomplishment. Still more are written to cause us to think about some cause or concern. But probably the vast majority are produced because someone feels strongly about a particular issue and wants to voice their view in a semi-non-confrontational way. It’s kind of like being able to “get up on your soapbox” without having to use your voice – or get up in someone’s face.
The point is, that when someone goes to the trouble to put a bumper sticker on their car, that very act of doing so is revealing something significant about that person. Bumper stickers give us a direct view into the mind (and heart!) of someone that we have never had the chance to meet. What they have to say is how they feel, how they think, and give us a glimpse into why they feel and think the way they do.
This all brings me to the bumper in front of me just the other day. The bumper sticker said:
At first glance, I was in total agreement. Hatred should have no place within any family – certainly not as something that any family should value. But then, I got to thinking about who is saying such things within our culture – and I came to the sudden realization that the person, whose bumper I was reading, was actually confronting me (Well, confronting anyone who embraces biblical values, in general, but I just happen to be one of those people)!
Now, the person with the “hate” bumper sticker doesn’t know me (and probably doesn’t actually know any real Christians) – how could he possibly know whether or not I have ill feelings towards anyone? How could he come to such a determination about me (and Christianity in general)? How could anyone summarily conclude that Christians are all about “hate?” And how could he possibly believe that we hold “hate” as one of our values (even passing that hatred on to our children)?
I was perplexed…
So I did some research. This phrase, it seems, became popular within the groups that support homosexual relationships. The phrase was their reaction, their response, to those who would possibly dare to suggest that homosexual behavior is immoral, unnatural – and sinful in the eyes of God.
I do not doubt that there are some, who may call themselves christians, who hate homosexual people (just as there are some homosexuals who hate Christians). But those who hate homosexuals are NOT true Christians. True Christians truly hate no one. True Christians are absolutely fixed upon imitating Jesus, who modeled true love and acceptance for all types of people (even those who were outcasts in their own culture).
But Jesus was not all love. He was also fully committed to the truth of God. He was unreservedly committed to God’s ways and standards. He was zealous for God’s view of things – and often spoke passionately about these things. Jesus loved compassionately – but He also remained totally committed to God’s viewpoint. One who knew Him best said that Jesus was “full of grace (God’s compassionate love) AND truth (God’s uncompromising commitment to what He determines is right).” He was able to be both compassionate with people, and passionate about the truth of God. Consistently.
True Christians really have one goal: imitate Jesus – be just like Him. Honestly, sometimes we fail… miserably. But being like Jesus is the goal. And just like Jesus, we are called to lovingly profess the truth of God. To speak the truth… in love. That is His purpose for us. And sometimes this approach can be so easily misunderstood.
So where does this perception of hate come from? Why do most people, who profess a homosexual lifestyle, believe that Christians hate them?
Much of this comes from our culture’s broad acceptance of humanism (the idea that man is the center of all things [God is optional… and so are His views] – and the belief that there are no absolute standards). Humanism has given rise to acceptance of the popular idea of “tolerance.” Which sounds right and civil, but is fraught with problems.
Modern “tolerance” is not just about accepting people in what they believe (and in how they choose to live) – modern “tolerance” is all about affirming how people choose to live. It’s not about accepting that you have the right to believe what you want to believe – it is that I have to accept that what you believe IS right. And if I choose not to accept what you believe – if I disagree with what you accept – then, according to the views of “tolerance,” I hate you. Any confrontation or challenge to how you choose to live is seen (in a “tolerant” culture) as an blatant act of hatred.
Time and again we see this… the only people who are NOT to be tolerated (in a “tolerant” society) are those who take a stand for the truths and moral standards expressed by our Creator-God. Why is it that the only people who are “closed-minded” are those who choose to believe that our Creator has views that we all should follow? Why is it that “bigotry” is defined as holding to the standards that our Creator has deemed best for us all? Why is it that “hatred” is so quickly assigned to those who have chosen to love and honor this loving Creator?
It gets pretty simple for those who believe in a Creator-God. There is a right. There is a wrong. And God has the right to define right and wrong for us all.
It is not hateful to talk about right or wrong. It is responsible. If there really is a God – He really does have standards by which we will all be measured… and judged. He has revealed those moral standards to us – and His people have been tasked with the responsibility to compassionately point all people to God’s view of things. To NOT point people to God’s standards (leaving them wide open to His impending judgment) would be a truly hateful act.
But, as we see in Jesus, truth must ALWAYS be extended in grace. Right and wrong must always come clothed in love. In this, all Christians must improve. We must love as Jesus loved. We must proclaim the truth Jesus proclaimed. These two things are at the heart of being truly Christian.
More thoughts on this topic at a later time…