Bumper Sticker Theology
Remembering God’s Word in a Cluttered World – Part 2
Exodus 20:1-7, Billboard: “If you must curse, use your own name.” – God (11/21/16)
|Exodus 20:1-7, Billboard: “If you must curse, use your own name.” – God
Deuteronomy 28:15-16, 19, Billboard: “Keep Using My Name in Vain And I’ll Make Rush Hour Longer” – God
Isaiah 11:1-9, Bumper Sticker: Visualize World Peace
Hosea 8:5-7, Bumper Sticker: Visualize Whirled Peas
Matthew 7:1-5, Bumper Sticker: “Change is good.......you go first”
Leviticus 19:19, Sign: “Try our new oil – Turkey gravy/Syn blend”
Matthew 5:3-12, Bumper Sticker: Too Blessed to be Stressed
Luke 12:6-7, Billboard: “I’m watching you!” – God
1 Peter 1:23-25, Bumper Stickers, both on the same car: Coexist vs. Born right the first time
John 2:1-11, Billboard: “Loved The Wedding, Invite Me To The Marriage” – God
1 Corinthians 7:10-16, Bumper Stickers, all on the same car: upper left: DARWIN amphibian plaque; lower left: “Life is tough. Pray Hard”; upper right: “RELIGION. Because thinking is hard”; lower right: Fish plaque with cross for eye
Ecclesiastes 9:3-10, Bumper Sticker: Drive carefully; there’s no heaven
Psalm 4:1-8, Bumper Sticker: Safety is my goal (with an 800 number)
Psalm 119:169-176, Billboard: “Feeling lost? My book is your map.” – God
Isaiah 53:6, Bumper Sticker: I’m not lost. I’m exploring
John 10:2–-5, 27-28, Billboard: “Follow Me.” – God
Matthew 25:34-40, Bumper Sticker: You can’t take it with you – But you can send it ahead!
Galatians 6:2, Yiddish Proverb: “God gave burdens, also shoulders.”
1 John 4:17-18, Ubiquitous Bumper Sticker, Decal, and Shirt: No Fear
Luke 10:25-28, Billboard: “Have You Read My #1 Best Seller? There Will Be A Test.” – God
More Bumper Sticker Theology
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Did you know that blasphemy, obscenity, profanity, swearing, and cursing are all different types
of utterance? Both the Hebrew and Greek prohibit us from taking God’s name “in vain,” which is also translated for an evil purpose
(CEV, Good News, ISV), make empty promises
(ERV), or carelessly
(God’s Word). No translation I looked at had “curse” or even “blaspheme.” Somewhat to my surprise, I’m now beginning to think that – or at least to wonder if – this commandment isn’t about bad language so much as it is about God’s holiness. The name of God
is holy and serious, and we shouldn’t use it lightly, i.e., in vain. “If you must curse, use your own name.”
Deuteronomy 28:15-16, 19, Billboard: “Keep Using My Name in Vain And I’ll Make Rush Hour Longer” – God (11/22/16)
The late Rev. Dr. Robert Templeton referred to honking at other drivers as “ecclesiastical profanity.” Maybe that’s better than using God’s name in vain at them, and maybe not. Probably it’s best that we be patient and kind in traffic, as we are everywhere else in our lives. I’m amused by the billboard that says, “Keep Using My Name in Vain And I’ll Make Rush Hour Longer,” and it appears to me that Deuteronomy supports this position. Hah!
Isaiah 11:1-9, Bumper Sticker: Visualize World Peace (11/23/16)
A common theme in Messianic prophecy is the restoration of paradise, and Isaiah had a beautiful vision of the peace that will come into the world along with the Messiah. Thus the bumper sticker “Visualize World Peace” has a sound basis in scripture. I think a bumper sticker that said, “Do something today about world peace” would be more useful. I’m just saying.
Hosea 8:5-7, Bumper Sticker: Visualize Whirled Peas (11/24/16)
The ancient Hebrew writers of the Bible loved
word play! I think they would have fallen on the ground laughing when, after six months of “Visualize World Peace,” they first saw “Visualize Whirled Peas” on the bumper of a chariot. Imagine my surprise when I found that reaped the whirlwind
a word play on sown the wind/ruach zara
! This is one of the rare occasions when we get word play in translation that wasn’t in the Hebrew; usually it’s the other way around. The Samarians wanted peace, but their abandonment of God gave them peas instead.
Matthew 7:1-5, Bumper Sticker: “Change is good.......you go first” (11/25/16)
Change is inevitable, and I freely admit that I wouldn’t want to live in any past era that I know about. Here’s the thing about change, though: you
should change to suit me
– just forget about having me
change to suit you
! In other words, “Change is good ... you go first.” Unfortunately for me, Jesus tells me that unless I have changed my own bad habits and given up my own sins, I shouldn’t be bothering you about yours.
Leviticus 19:19, Sign: “Try our new oil – Turkey gravy/Syn blend”
I couldn’t resist this sign I saw today as I was driving by Jiffy Lube: “Try our new oil – Turkey gravy/Syn blend.” No ... I think that if God wanted me to blend turkey gravy and synthetic oil, he would have made synthetic oil taste better.
God wanted the young nation of Israel to be separate in their lives, and particularly in their religious practices, from the surrounding pagan nations. Various mixtures, e.g., hybrid animals, various kinds of seeds, or fabrics made of two different fibers, were prohibited. This was probably intended as one of the numerous daily tokens reminding them that they were a separate nation, holy unto God.
Happy Thanksgiving, even if you don’t celebrate this American holiday.
Matthew 5:3-12, Bumper Sticker: Too Blessed to be Stressed (11/28/16)
So, did you go out and fight the crowds on Black Friday? Have you got your Christmas cards mailed? Have you boned out the Thanksgiving turkey, just in time to start the Christmas fruit cake? The holidays can be stressful, especially now that Christmas advertising seems to start around the Fourth of July. Stop! Take a deep breath ... hold it ... let it out slowly. Remember that only one thing is necessary for Christmas: the love of Jesus. We are “Too Blessed to be Stressed.”
Luke 12:6-7, Billboard: “I’m watching you!” – God (11/29/16)
Probably a lot of people take “I’m watching you! – God” as a threat. He’s making a list and checking it twice – no, wait, that’s Santa Claus. But there still can be the feeling when you read this billboard that God is keeping score. Or maybe instead you could have the feeling that God is, thank God!, watching over you for good. Because you are worth more than many sparrows.
1 Peter 1:23-25, Bumper Stickers, both on the same car: Coexist vs. Born right the first time (11/30/16)
I used to see a particular car regularly in a parking lot when I went to meet my Greek study buddy. It apparently belonged to a Wiccan clergyman, and it had about 20 bumper stickers. I was especially puzzled by two of them: “Coexist” and “Born right the first time.” You know the “Coexist” one – it uses symbols of various religions for the letters. I can get behind “Coexist.” But “Born right the first time”?? That’s a clear anti-Christian sentiment, totally at odds with “Coexist.” We Christians know that however we might have been born, we committed so many sins that we needed to be born again.
Now, this fellow had (thanks be to God!) no anti-Jewish or anti-Islamic bumper stickers, and he probably would be appalled if someone suggested that he add one. Apparently “coexisting” still allows him to denigrate Christian beliefs; however, I want to make it clear that you and I must love him all the same, just as God does.
John 2:1-11, Billboard: “Loved The Wedding, Invite Me To The Marriage” – God (12/1/16)
An ancient Jewish commentary says that a Roman woman asked a rabbi, “If your God created the universe in six days, then what has he been doing with his time since then?” The rabbi answered that God has been arranging marriages. I like the billboard that says, “‘Loved The Wedding, Invite Me To The Marriage’ – God.”
1 Corinthians 7:10-16, Bumper Stickers, all on the same car:
- upper left: DARWIN amphibian plaque;
- lower left: “Life is tough. Pray Hard”;
- upper right: “RELIGION. Because thinking is hard”;
- lower right: Fish plaque with cross for eye
The day before yesterday, we read a pair of contradictory bumper stickers from the same car, and yesterday we read a billboard about marriage. I laughed out loud when I came up behind a car with four bumper stickers that combine contradictory messages and marriage!
The car was spotlessly clean, and the four bumper stickers were neatly and symmetrically applied. In the upper left, there was one of those DARWIN amphibian plaques that show the driver accepts the theory of evolution. Below that, in the lower left, was a sticker that said, “Life is tough. Pray Hard.” The upper right displayed a sticker saying, “RELIGION. Because thinking is hard.” And below that one, on the lower right, was the standard Christian fish plaque with a cross for an eye.
What a mixed marriage
! Obviously this car belongs to a couple who understand and respect, even though they do not completely accept, each other’s beliefs. They are following the advice of Paul in agreeing to stay together, and they are both holy in God’s sight.
Ecclesiastes 9:3-10, Bumper Sticker: Drive carefully; there’s no heaven (12/5/16)
It makes sense that cars would have bumper stickers about traveling. I’m not sure I understand “Drive carefully; there’s no heaven.” Does it mean, “I don’t want to die”? Or maybe, “Only what you do here matters”? Either way, the writer of Ecclesiastes would probably agree.
Psalm 4:1-8, Bumper Sticker: Safety is my goal (with an 800 number) (12/6/16)
I’m sure you’ve seen the bumper sticker saying, “Safety is my goal” (or something similar), followed by a 1-800- number that you can call if the driver isn’t meeting that goal. Would you or I drive better with our church’s phone number on our bumper? No matter how we drive, we know that God alone makes us dwell in safety.
Psalm 119:169-176, Billboard: “Feeling lost? My book is your map.” – God (12/7/16)
Psalm 119 is one of the “acrostic psalms,” in which every line of each stanza begins with the same letter in Hebrew. Verses 169 to 176, the last stanza of Psalm 119, all begin with the letter tau (roughly T), the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. You’ll almost never see this in translation, except that many translations will have the name of the letter right before the first verse of the stanza. Anyway, I like maps, so I like the billboard that says, “Feeling lost? My book is your map. – God.” Verse 179 says exactly the same thing.
Isaiah 53:6, Bumper Sticker: I’m not lost. I’m exploring (12/8/16)
Have you ever seen a lost dog trotting along the side of the street? I’m sure it doesn’t realize that it’s lost.
It just thinks it’s looking for the way to get home, that is, exploring
. When we wander away from God, we think, “I’m not lost. I’m exploring,” but in fact, we’re lost. Good thing God sent somebody after us.
John 10:2–-5, 27-28, Billboard: “Follow Me.” – God (12/9/16)
According to the billboard, God says, “Follow me.” According to the scripture, God says the same thing.
Matthew 25:34-40, Bumper Sticker: You can’t take it with you – But you can send it ahead! (12/12/16)
The bumper sticker that says, “You can’t take it with you – But you can send it ahead!” is almost
right. If you are the type of person to “send it ahead” through acts of kindness and love, then God already has your place in heaven ready, completely furnished, and there’s no need
to send anything else ahead!
Galatians 6:2, Yiddish Proverb: “God gave burdens, also shoulders.” (12/13/16)
Some of the newer translations of Galatians 6:2 tell you to “help” with one another’s “troubles.” What it really says is “bear” – take it up yourself – one another’s “burdens” or “weights.” The proverb, “God gave burdens, also shoulders,” is a better reflection of scripture than some of the translations!
1 John 4:17-18, Ubiquitous Bumper Sticker, Decal, and Shirt: No Fear (12/14/16)
For a while there it seemed like every
bumper sticker, window decal, tee shirt, and angel brought the same message: “No Fear.” Everybody must have been reading the letters of John.
Luke 10:25-28, Billboard: “Have You Read My #1 Best Seller? There Will Be A Test.” – God (12/15/16)
We’ve been talking in Sunday School about what it means to be “converted” or “saved.” Jesus (and just about every biblical writer) had a lot to say on that topic, and one of his answers is to love God and love your neighbor, as the scriptures say
. In other words, “Have You Read My #1 Best Seller? There Will Be A Test.”
More of Bumper Sticker Theology
Bumper Sticker Theology – Part 1
Bumper Sticker Theology – Part 2
Bumper Sticker Theology – Part 3
Bumper Sticker Theology – Part 4
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