Her Views · On Being Christian

bumper sticker scriptures

I think humans in general have a habit of condensing thoughts into little catchy phrases. It makes them easier to remember if we can fit them on, say… a bumper sticker. “Christians aren’t perfect… just forgiven.” So, I suppose it’s understandable that we can do the same with Scripture. But much like the secret to real estate is supposedly “Location. Location. Location,” the secret to understanding the Bible is “Context. Context. Context.”

While the following wouldn’t all fit on a bumper sticker, I think sometimes we throw them around – often out of context – in much the same way. Here are a few of my favorites.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
This is one of my favorites. Because it’s written to the thousands of people who have been deported to exile in Babylon. And Jeremiah is actually telling them to get used to it – they’ll be there 70 years. Thaaaat’s great. It’s miserable, and it’s not getting better, at least not for awhile. Yes, this verse is still full of the comfort of God’s promise today, but His planning is often more long-range than ours.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
I’m almost afraid to mention this one for fear of incurring the wrath of the National Day of Prayer folk. This verse comes right after the construction and dedication of the temple. And the glory of the Lord fills the temple. The next verse continues, “Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” “This place” being the Temple. The land is Israel, and while we should always pray for our country and its leaders, God is not talking about America here.

“They’ll know we are christians by our love.”
Great. Be more generally loving – easy. I think this must come from John 13:35. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Technically, the saying should be: “They’ll know we are Christians by our love for each other.” Which, being so specific, is much harder. An interesting distinction that seems especially relevant to many of the discussions happening in the Church today.

“Love the sinner – hate the sin.”
Okay, technically this isn’t a verse, it’s more of bumper sticker. But if you look carefully, Jesus never said to “love the sinner but hate the sin.” He did say to love the sinner. But he was pretty clear you should hate your own sin.

Are there others?

10 thoughts on “bumper sticker scriptures

  1. Good work!

    And, yes, here’s another: “choose life,” which is sometimes used as a justification for being against abortion, from Deuteronomy 30:19. The passage has nothing to do with abortion, at least not in any direct sense, but is about Israel choosing God, rather than paganism. It’s part of the farewell speech by Moses.

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  2. Jan, you just made me smile. I loathe so-called “Christian” adornments of all sorts on vehicles. They reduce Christ’s reputation to a marketing scheme, and turn unbelievers off to our faith altogether. And taking Scripture out of context, while a favorite American pastime, causes dangerous…even deadly…theology. Great post.

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  3. How about Matthew 18 — “…where 2 or more [witnesses] are gathered…”

    Of course God is omnipresent, right? He is always with ALL His children, ALL the time, whether 1 alone, or with 2 or 3 peeps who are gathered together — so why do peeps continue to misunderstand this? We so often quote people, believing they are correct. We don’t do the research ourselves. Boy, am I guilty of that!

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  4. One can always tell the Christians on the road by looking for the gleaming silver Ichthus swimming against the current of interstate and local traffic. Obviously there are souls in need of salvation.

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  5. Jan, this is a great post! Guess you know me by now, that I totally agree with you on the importance of context when it comes to verses.
    I did just want to comment on the saying, “Love the sinner but hate the sin”. Romans 1:18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against ALL ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…” I know you agree that Jesus (God in the flesh) HATED all sin so much that He suffered a horrible death on the cross to pay the penalty for us. Anyways, keep up the good posts!

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    1. Absolutely – God is holy and hates all sin. I guess in context of “love the sinner hate the sin,” I think believers sometimes use that phrase to justify their behavior toward certain unbelievers – while overlooking our own sin of judging, resentment, unforgiveness, being unloving, etc, which Jesus frequently taught about.

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