Remember bumper stickers? You’ve seen it. Perhaps it’s on your bumper, next to Single ‘n’ Sassy. Maybe Calvin is there, relieving himself on something… (remember those?)
But we’re not here to talk about comic characters named after John Calvin (why did “Wesley the Cat” never make it?) We’re here to talk about bumper stickers that say things like Christians Aren’t Perfect, Just Forgiven.
While it is true that Christians are forgiven through Christ, and that Christians aren’t immediately made perfect in their behavior, I must say that I’m glad that this bumper sticker has mostly disappeared from the lexicon of our subculture. I don’t think it accomplishes what we thought it did.
Its presence on our bumper was intended to proclaim something like “listen — I know I’m not perfect, but I do know that I’m forgiven — ask me for more information!”
What it actually says is something like “Yeah, I cut you off and flipped you the bird, but at least I’m going to heaven. You, on the other hand, are headed to H -E – double hockey sticks!” (because we don’t say words like hell). No one meant it this way, but the interpretation of culture in general probably sways more toward this side of the equation.
Now I know that, like the Prayer of Jabez™, the intention is good. Bumper Sticker theology, I’m afraid, has equipped us to think that what we do doesn’t matter once we’re forgiven.
That’s where this Sunday’s reading in 1st Peter really gets into our faces and challenges our assumptions that we’re forgiven and it doesn’t matter. As I’ve worked through this passage, I felt pretty convicted. I look forward to tomorrow with great fear. And, if you have this sticker on your car, don’t worry. Mine says Expedition, and I haven’t even gone on one.