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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Giving The Rest of Us a Bad Name

The other day, I pull into the parking lot at St. Louis Bread Company (Panera, if you have one of those near you). I start to pull into a spot, but I can't because a Suburban is taking up a big chunk of two different spots. I grumble, pull around, and pull into one of the spots behind the offending vehicle. Then I took a look, and I began to fume.

The license plate read "THYWORD". Bumper stickers proclaimed "He Still Saves" and "Jesus is my Friend." Lovely.

You gotta love people like that. They wear their religion on their sleeve (or on their car, or on a trendy t-shirt with a catchy phrase). I guess they think they need to do that or maybe no one will know that they're Christians. The only problem is that when they do something like that, and then act discourteous to others (or even break any of a number of traffic laws), they act as a beacon for all the world to see. They sure do have a witness, alright- Christians are selfish, self-absorbed, hypocritical jerks.

Yeah, yeah. I'm exaggerating. After all, she just took up two parking spaces. What's the big deal, right? The big deal is that it's the little things that we do as people of faith that sometimes leave the greatest impression on those around us. It's not that we wear a cross on a chain, or a fish on the back of our car. It's what we say and do each and every day that tells the world who we are as Christians.

Our pastor once "joked" that you'll never see bumper stickers with our church's name on it. When asked why, he said, "because I've seen how you people drive." He's got a point, maybe. In a similar story, Jeff Foxworthy talks about being behind a car with a bumper sticker that read "Honk if you love Jesus." He honked, and the guy flipped him off.

I admit it. I had my fair share of "God's Gym" t-shirts when I was in college (they're long gone now). I wear a cross on a chain around my neck almost every day- not as a witness to the world that I am a follower of Jesus Christ, but as a quiet reminder to myself of who I am - a child of God. Some people can gracefully shout it out from the mountaintops (Billy Graham and Mother Teresa come to mind). Me? I know I'm far from perfect. I'd rather you take the time to get to know me so you can see the amazing things God has done in my life. Flawed, but forgiven. Chich├ęd, I know, but true, none the less.

I guess I'll end my little tale of Suburban woe with this caution... for the sake of your fellow believers, unless you've got a pretty good handle on the Fruits of the Spirit (you remember those, right? love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness [meekness, humility] and self-control), try not advertise too much. It would probably be better to cultivate relationships, showing how God is working in your life... a sort of friendship evangelism, so to speak. Otherwise... you end up giving us all... and Jesus, as well... a bad name.

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