Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Communication - A Terminal Condition

If you've been involved in Christianity, especially evangelical Christianity, you've had this experience before. You're driving along the interstate and you pass a car going rather slowly compared to the rest of traffic, but rather the speed "limit" as the local authorities have defined it. You notice in your haste that this SUV has anywhere from 3 to 17 bumper stickers on it, so you decide it's well worth your time to investigate what causes this car has decided to champion. As you ease off the accelerator, you begin to read the first one.

Next to the obligatory Jesus fish you see the number one must-have Christian bumper sticker of all time.
No Jesus No Peace

You think to yourself, "Not bad. I know Christians love a good pun, but I can see what they mean." Then you see the next one.
1 Cross + 3 Nails

After doing a little math and figuring out the pun at 70 miles per hour, you think, "Okay. I get it." Then you see the best one yet.

In case of rapture

While these bumper stickers may cause someone to think for a minute or to consider their lives, they do require a certain level of knowledge about Christianity to start with. But I think the last one is far too cavalier.

The first issue is that the bumper sticker assumes that the average reader will know what this "rapture" is and the significance of that event.

The other issue is that someone with this bumper sticker on their car more than likely believes in a pretribulational view of the rapture. If that's the case, then it's very likely that person is aware that the rapture that they are looking forward to so eagerly, is not a laughing matter for those who will not be raptured. It marks the beginning of a very terrible time for anyone left on earth. Millions upon millions of people will die in period that follows it.

We cannot be so concerned about making cute bumper stickers (or church marquees) that we grow callose to the very real plight of those in our world who have never trusted in Jesus Christ. The rapture, the tribulation, and hell should not be laughing matters to us, but rather a call to action. Share the love and grace found through faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for us.

Share the gospel on their terms using their terminology, so their condition isn't terminal.


Bill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill said...

It's funny because its true :) I find myself using Christian terms with unbelievers and having to explain terms that I have grown up using and (hopefully) understanding. Where I minister now, Texas, the culture is saturated with these terms and I have met people who say they are not Christians that can articulate the gospel in "Christian" terms.

Anonymous said...

When ever I see a car with a "christian" bumper sticker or the fish symbol, I alway say its a christian car but I dont know about the driver and occupants!
Over here, Christian terminology is almost devoid of any meaning to those outside the church, so have to be very careful in what words we use when speaking the Gospel...

Gabe Smith said...

Dave and Bill: Opposite sides of the world, but you still have similar experiences. Interesting indeed.

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