More Bumper Sticker Theology?

Remembering God’s Word in a Cluttered World – Part 4

Matthew 5:17-30, Bumper Sticker: Be Kind. Be Courteous. Get Home Safe
Matthew 5:31-48, Bumper Sticker: You can go to hell for lying, same as you can for stealing
2 Corinthians 12:1-6, Bumper Sticker: Jehovahauna. High on Jesus
2 Chronicles 19:9; Joel 2:12; Psalm 51, Church Sign: God wants a whole heart, but he’ll take a broken one

1 Kings 18:17-39, Church sign: He who tries to walk on two separate paths splits his pants
1 Samuel 13:1, Ruth 1:17, Decal: Keep Calm and Chive On
John 3:1-21, Bumper Sticker: 3:16
Revelations 21:1-4, 22:1-5, Decal: Palm tree with “No Bad Days.”

John 10:1-18, Bumper Sticker in tiny print: Are you following Jesus this closely?
1 John 3:1-11, Church Sign: Practice makes perfect. Be careful what you practice
John 14:5-27, Bumper Sticker: No God, no peace; Know God, know peace
Luke 7:36-50, One-liner: Many folks want to serve Jesus – but only in an advisory capacity
Romans 6:23; Matt. 25:14-30, One-liner: Sin would be less attractive if the wages were paid immediately
Ezekiel 24:1-14, Billboard: “The real Supreme Court meets here.” – God, Part 1
Matthew 25:31-46, Billboard: “The real Supreme Court meets here.” – God, Part 2
Psalm 137; Matthew 6:25-34; Hebrews 11:1, 7-12, One-liner: Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks ahead
Luke 19:1-10, One-liner: Holiness is not the way to Jesus; Jesus is the way to holiness
Luke 18:9-14, One-liner: You’re not too bad to come in. You’re not too good to stay out
Matthew 28:1-7, 16-20, Bumper Sticker: The Offer ✞ Still Stands
Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hosea 1:6 – 2:1, Billboard: “I love you ... Te amo ... (in every language).” – God
Acts 22:1-16, Window Sign: “I’ve got nothing against God. It’s his fan club I can’t stand.”
John 3:1-17, Church sign: What’s the good word? John 3:16
Revelation 21:1 – 22:5, Bumper Sticker: What if we destroy the planet before Jesus gets back?
John 6:1-30, Bumper Sticker: Share your life with a deaf dog. License plate: ASL*DOG
Matthew 5:43-48; 2 Peter 1:2-8, Bumper Sticker: Lord help me to be the person my dog thinks I am

More Bumper Sticker Theology

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Matthew 5:17-30, Bumper Sticker: Be Kind. Be Courteous. Get Home Safe (3/13/17)

We’re starting a new study today, called “More Bumper Sticker Theology?” We’re doing this for two reasons. First, readers just kept sending in bumper stickers! Second, the next study is going to be a long one that takes me some study time to prepare, and the bumper stickers will give me a few weeks.

Raka is a Hebrew word that means “empty”; when applied to a person it means “worthless.” To say “Raka!” was to hurl a vile insult. The word is used fourteen times in the OT, and I daresay it was probably heard in daily life in Jesus’ time, especially from camel drivers. Jesus is against name calling, even by automobile drivers. “Be Kind. Be Courteous. Get Home Safe.”


Matthew 5:31-48, Bumper Sticker: You can go to hell for lying, same as you can for stealing (3/14/17)

From our poor human point of view, there are big sins and little sins. (Generally speaking, any sin I commit is a “little” sin, and any sin you commit is a “big” sin.) But God has a different point of view. Jesus says that the old laws were fine, but not enough. Not swearing a false oath is good, but in fact you shouldn’t swear at all. Not taking excessive revenge is fine, but in fact you should take no revenge at all. Loving your friends and relatives is natural, but in fact you should love your enemy also.

According to the Bible, lying and stealing are both the same size. “You can go to hell for lying, same as you can for stealing.” Our goal is to be perfect, just as our father in heaven is perfect, but we often fall short of the goal. Thanks be to God, who can save us if we steal, or even if we lie!


2 Corinthians 12:1-6, Bumper Sticker: Jehovahauna. High on Jesus (3/15/17)

For about 15 minutes, I followed a car with the bumper sticker, “Jehovahauna. High on Jesus.” I didn’t get it. I kept repeating it to myself and thinking about it, and finally I realized that it is supposed to be a play on “high on marijuana.”

Apparently most commentaries assume that Paul is really talking about himself when he says he knew a man snatched up to the third heaven, but he pretends it’s someone else because he doesn’t want to boast.

I don’t buy that. In the first place, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:2-5a that he is boasting about this man, and in 5b-6 that he refuses to boast about himself. Paul has already boasted about himself quite openly in 2 Corinthians 1:2, 2 Corinthians 10:8, and 2 Corinthians 11. He also made no secret of the fact that Jesus appeared to him twice (Acts 22, Acts 18:9) and an angel once (Acts 27:23-24). I think that if Paul said somebody else had this wonderful experience, it really was somebody else. In the second place, if Paul is talking about himself in vss. 2-5a, then he must be lying in vss. 5b-6. Even people who don’t care much for Paul don’t accuse him of being a liar.

But whether Paul or someone else, the man who was snatched away to the third heaven really was “high on Jesus.”

Reader Comment: Duuuuude!


2 Chronicles 19:9; Joel 2:12; Psalm 51, Church Sign: God wants a whole heart, but he’ll take a broken one (3/16/17)

Life often breaks our hearts. Our own sin, the sin of others against us, time and chance – all can contribute to our suffering and break our hearts. Fortunately, we belong to a God who wants us to come to him with our whole heart, but who also wants to take us back when our hearts are broken.


1 Kings 18:17-39, Church sign: He who tries to walk on two separate paths splits his pants (3/17/17)

God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and took care of them for 40 years in the desert. He brought them into the land of the Hittites, the Canaanites, etc., and gave them the land. At the end of the campaign, Joshua said, “Choose this day whom you will serve,” and they all vowed to serve God. Then they looked around at the local gods and said, “Well, maybe we should serve them, too.”

Time passes. Elijah tells them to make up their minds: “How long will you keep hesitating between both sides? If the LORD is God, go after him. If Baal, go after him.” You can’t serve both God and other gods, and it make no sense to try. The church sign is correct, “He who tries to walk on two separate paths splits his pants.”


1 Samuel 13:1, Ruth 1:17, Decal: Keep Calm and Chive On (3/20/17)

I was driving along behind an SUV with a big decal: “Keep Calm and Chive On.” This made no sense to me. I thought about chives. I thought about puns. It made no sense. Then the SUV turned into the same parking lot that I did, and the driver got out just as I did, so I asked him what it was about. He told me it was for a radio station he listens to, “The Chive.” Ah. Perfect sense.

Sometimes we read things in the Bible that make no sense, and I’m giving you two examples today. In the case of 1 Samuel 13:1, something is missing from the Hebrew text. It says Saul was a year old (“son of a year,” an idiom) when he became king of Israel and that he reigned two years, but this makes no sense whatever, given everything else we know about King Saul. Translators do various things with this verse, but the fact is, we don’t know what the Hebrew meant to say.

Ruth 1:17 is a different case. We know exactly what the Hebrew says and what it meant to say: “May the LORD do so to me and more also.” The Hebrew is perfectly clear, but that’s not what Ruth said! What she said was some kind of curse upon herself if she failed to stay with Naomi until death. “May the LORD do so to me and more also” is a well-understood idiom that is always substituted for the real words. After all, the writer and reader don’t want to accidentally bring the curse down upon themselves by repeating it, right? Some translators go away from the Hebrew to try to give you an idea of what she might have said. Now that I’ve explained it to you, the verse makes perfect sense.

When a verse makes no sense to you, do this: First, read a second translation. Second, read a commentary. Third, ask your pastor, rabbi, Sunday School teacher, or me. We may explain (as in Ruth) or say that nobody really knows (as in 1 Samuel). Don’t worry about it, though. If it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t important to salvation. God’s message of love and his plan of salvation always make sense!

This just in from alert fellow-reader Larry L.: Keep Calm and Chive On “is actually a play on a WWII British poster to keep morale up at home. The original poster was ‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’ This has been modified in many different ways recently, encouraging people to keep calm and do something, often nonsensical.”

The decal I saw had the crown and the same typeface as the original poster. Background information often adds a great deal to our understanding of bumper stickers and Bible passages!


John 3:1-21, Bumper Sticker: 3:16 (3/21/17)

If you’ve ever watched football on television, you’ve seen a big sign in the stands that says “John 3:16.” Judging from internet searches, John 3:16 is the most searched for, most popular, best known verse in the entire Bible. Small wonder that the bumper sticker doesn’t even have to give us the whole reference. It just says, “3:16,” and we know what it’s talking about.


Revelation 21:1-4, 22:1-5, Decal: Palm tree with “No Bad Days.” (3/22/17)

Unlike “Keep Calm and Chive On,” a decal with a palm tree and “No Bad Days” is self-explanatory. I can imagine lying on the beach in the shade of a palm tree, sipping cold lemonade and listening to the waves lapping softly on the sand. I can also imagine hurricanes, sand fleas, tsunamis, and sunburn. When we get to heaven, however, there will most certainly be no bad days.


John 10:1-18, Bumper Sticker in tiny print: Are you following Jesus this closely? (3/23/17)

We’ve seen before that some drivers have bumper stickers that are messages to other drivers. In fact, I saw a funny one the other day that said something like, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you wanted to turn. Doesn’t your car have a turn signal?” Today’s bumper sticker says, in very small print, “Are you following Jesus this closely?” I like it! It doesn’t hassle the other guy, it just encourages him to be a good follower of the good shepherd, Jesus.


1 John 3:1-11, Church Sign: Practice makes perfect. Be careful what you practice (3/24/17)

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter whether you want to be good at music or medicine, law or lacrosse, art or architecture, the only way to do something well is to practice. The same is true of righteousness and sin. If you practice sin, sin will become easier for you. If you practice righteousness, righteousness will become a habit. “Practice makes perfect. Be careful what you practice.”


John 14:5-27, Bumper Sticker: No God, no peace; Know God, know peace (3/27/17)

“No God, no peace; Know God, know peace” is a punning bumper sticker that has been around for a long time. The idea has also been around for an even longer time, because Jesus is the one who originally said it.

Luke 7:36-50, One-liner: Many folks want to serve Jesus – but only in an advisory capacity (3/28/17)

Don’t you think you could do a better job of running the state than the people who are now in office? If they would just ask you, couldn’t you tell them what should be done to fix all our problems? Okay then, why don’t you run for public office? Probably because you are just like me – we’d rather give advice than do the work.

The Pharisee Simon was pretty sure he could do a better job of judging people than Jesus could. Jesus notices this, and he points out that Simon did not welcome him with a kiss or give him water for his feet, both of which were customary, much less give him oil for his head. Simon was one of those folks who “want to serve Jesus – but only in an advisory capacity.”


Romans 6:23; Matt. 25:14-30, One-liner: Sin would be less attractive if the wages were paid immediately (3/29/17)

The thing about training puppies is that rewards and punishments are ideally handed out fairly close in time to the desirable or undesirable behavior in order to make the connection clear. We are like puppies. We may read that the wages of sin is death, but in most cases we figure that death is far away, so we aren’t too clear on the connection to the sins we commit today.

The third servant in this parable is like me. He knew, in a cerebral kind of way, that his master had certain standards, but his master was far away. What a shock it must have been when the master returned and enforced the standards! “Sin would be less attractive if the wages were paid immediately.”


Ezekiel 24:1-14, Billboard: “The real Supreme Court meets here.” – God, Part 1 (3/30/17)

It takes a long time for a case to come before the Supreme Court. First the case has to work its way through the lower courts, and then usually the Supreme Court has to think over the merits and decide whether there is a Constitutional Question to be decided, or whether they just want to send it back to a lower court or whatever.

Generally speaking, it takes a long time for God to convene his own Supreme Court. God likes to give people and nations every possible chance to repent, and he doesn’t like to pull up the tares along with the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). There comes a point, however, when God’s people have been so sinful for so long, and when they have ignored so many opportunities to repent, that “the real Supreme Court meets.”


Matthew 25:31-46, Billboard: “The real Supreme Court meets here.” – God, Part 2 (3/31/17)

Apparently a lot of people believe that the “God of the Old Testament” is all judgment and doom, and the “God of the New Testament” is all mercy and light. These people have apparently never read either the Old Testament or the New Testament! God is God, and the character of God changes not a whit between the two testaments. Yesterday, for example, we saw God telling Ezekiel to tell the people of Judah that they were about to be judged. Today we see Jesus telling all the rest of us that we are about to be judged. God says, “The real Supreme Court meets here.”

P.S. I could have easily found two scriptures talking about God’s love and mercy, but that would be a different bumper sticker.


Psalm 137; Matthew 6:25-34; Hebrews 11:1, 7-12, One-liner: Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks ahead (4/3/17)

In Babylon, the exiles wondered how they could sing the songs of Zion in a foreign land; God wondered how they could learn their lesson if they kept mourning the past. In Judea, people wondered how soon their dinner would be ready and what to wear; Jesus wondered how they could put God’s business first when they were so worried about their dinners. The writer of Hebrews gives examples of how to move forward: have faith in God and follow him into the future! “Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks ahead.”


Luke 19:1-10, One-liner: Holiness is not the way to Jesus; Jesus is the way to holiness (4/4/17)

It’s a coincidence that Craig preached on this passage last Sunday, but I was interested that we have two totally different ideas about Zacchaeus’s motive. I have always found the folks at the IRS and the NM Dept. of Tax and Revenue to be polite and helpful, and whenever I’ve accidentally overpaid, they have sent the money back! Zacchaeus ... was probably different. He was a Jewish tax collector working for the Romans, which meant that he was a collaborator with the occupying forces and probably an extortionist to boot. Why did such a man climb a tree to see Jesus? Craig thinks he felt some yearning to be with Jesus. Craig is a nicer person than I am, obviously, because I just think Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus because he was famous! He was the superstar of his day, and everybody wanted to see him!

I think Zacchaeus was a thoroughly nasty man with no yearnings at all – right up until the moment Jesus spoke to him. It was Jesus’ holiness and love that brought Zacchaeus to his senses and provided his salvation. “Holiness is not the way to Jesus; Jesus is the way to holiness.”

Pastor Craig’s Comment: And I would counter that sometimes “hole”-iness also offers a path to Jesus! Some soul “hole” that nothing else can fill. ☺


Luke 18:9-14, One-liner: You’re not too bad to come in. You’re not too good to stay out (4/5/17)

It occurs to me that even though Jesus contrasts the Pharisee and the tax collector in this famous parable, they did have one thing in common: they were both in the Temple praying. The Pharisee thought he was pretty cool, what with all his fasting and tithing, and the tax collector thought he was a miserable sinner, but they both showed up for worship. No matter who we identify with in this story, or even if we are somewhere in the middle, God welcomes us when we show up for worship. “You’re not too bad to come in. You’re not too good to stay out.”


Matthew 28:1-7, 16-20, Bumper Sticker: The Offer ✞ Still Stands (4/6/17)

The last thing Jesus told his disciples before his ascension into heaven was to go to everyone on earth, tell them about himself and the commandments, and baptize them. It hasn’t happened yet, but we’re working on it, because the offer of salvation still stands.


Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hosea 1:6 – 2:1, Billboard: “I love you ... Te amo ... (in every language).” – God (4/7/17)

Nobody knows exactly how many languages there are in the world, because (1) they haven’t all been counted yet, and (2) linguists don’t agree on whether some of them – “Chinese,” for example – are really several languages or one language with a lot of dialects. But no matter what language you speak, God wants you for his people, and he says “I love you” in your native tongue.


Acts 22:1-16, Window Sign: “I’ve got nothing against God. It’s his fan club I can’t stand.” (5/29/17)

Saul, who later was renamed Paul, was an extremely religious man! He loved God so much that he had people arrested, jailed, and even killed, and when he ran out of people to persecute in Jerusalem, he chased them down in foreign cities. We see people like this – of all faiths, so don’t get smug – even today. They “love God so much” that they hate people! You can understand why this evil behavior gives rise to the saying, “I’ve got nothing against God. It’s his fan club I can’t stand.”

Let’s you and I try to be a part of God’s fan club that makes people want to join.


John 3:1-17, Church sign: What’s the good word? John 3:16 (5/30/17)

John 3:16 is the world’s most popular Bible verse, so probably you agree with the church sign that says, “What’s the good word? John 3:16.” Nevertheless, John 3:1-14 and especially John 17 are important, too!


Revelation 21:1 – 22:5, Bumper Sticker: What if we destroy the planet before Jesus gets back? (5/31/17)

Speaking as a geologist, I have to tell you that “destroying the planet” is a lot harder than you might think. Making it unsuitable for human habitation is well within our power, unfortunately, which does relate to the question on the bumper sticker, “What if we destroy the planet before Jesus gets back?”

The message from Revelation is that when Jesus comes back there will be a new heaven and a new earth. That could be a while in the future, though, so meantime we are supposed to take care of this one (Genesis 2:15).


John 6:1-30, Bumper Sticker: Share your life with a deaf dog. License plate: ASL*DOG (6/1/17)

Bumper stickers are easy to get; special license plates are more difficult. So when I saw the bumper sticker “Share your life with a deaf dog” along with the license plate “ASL*DOG,” I knew that the driver takes seriously his obligation to give his dog a sign. (You probably know that “ASL” stands for “American Sign Language,” a manual language for the hearing impaired.)

Jesus worked a mighty sign: the Feeding of the 5000, which is the only miracle reported in all four gospels. People said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” The next day, the same crowd (see vss. 24 and 26) asked Jesus, “What sign do you do, that we may see and believe you?” They really needed some lessons in sign language!


Matthew 5:43-48; 2 Peter 1:2-8, Bumper Sticker: Lord help me to be the person my dog thinks I am (6/2/17)

I’ve been enjoying the Chet and Bernie mysteries by Spencer Quinn. Chet, the dog, thinks that Bernie, the human, is just about perfect. Bernie is the smartest, handsomest, kindest, toughest person in the world. In every book, Chet discovers something new about Bernie that makes him even more perfect than he was before!

Jesus says that we should be perfect, just as our heavenly Father is perfect. I’m not there yet, but Peter gives me some hints for steps that I can take to be better than I was. Maybe eventually, with the Lord’s help, I’ll be “the person my dog thinks I am.”


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

Copyright 2016, 2017 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.


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