“No God — No Peace. Know God — Know Peace.”
“Free Trip to heaven. Details Inside!”
“Try our Sundays. They are better than Baskin-Robbins.”
“Searching for a new look? Have your faith lifted here!
“If you don’t like the way you were born, try being born again.”
“Looking at the way some people live, they ought to obtain eternal fire insurance soon.”
“This is a ch_ _ ch. What is missing?
“Forbidden fruit creates many jams.”
“In the dark? Follow the Son.”
“Running low on faith? Stop in for a fill-up.”
“If you can’t sleep, don’t count sheep. Talk to the Shepherd.”
C’mon, seriously?! Is this what we’ve been boiling down Christianity to these days? Slogans that are so ridiculous, so over simplistic, that the world looks at these and chuckles? This post is going to be dealing with slogans like the ones I posted above, and the way that these slogans, and slogans like it do so much more harm than good.
I’m not a negative guy. Really, I promise, I laugh all the time, sometimes I’m way too sarcastic, and I have some friends that make me cry of laughter. I don’t want people to misunderstand my intent here, it’s not that I’m trying to point out things for the sake of pointing things out. I’m trying to steer us back to truth, back to the reality of Jesus. This includes calling out junk in both the Christian and non-Christian world. I’m often more critical of the Christian world because we are the ones who are making huge claims. Not many people claim to know absolute truth, not many people claim to know the only way to heaven, and not many people are so bold about the truth that they claim they know. Because of this, it’s extremely important that we know the truth that we are claiming. If we are claiming that Jesus is the only way to God the Father and all of the other things that come with such a loaded statement, then we must be able to articulate this clearly, not dwindling it down to 5 or 6 words. This is what gets me so frustrated about Church slogans, they are over simplistic, half true (and you know what they say about half truths), and they do very little to articulate the full truth of Jesus.
I know many people like to say that the gospel is simple, easy, just say a few words (from the bottom of your heart) and presto, like a magic act, you are instantly saved. You now have permanent “fire insurance” (Aka: You’re not going to Hell) and one day you’ll be in heaven forever. While I know this is popular thinking, I don’t think it’ Scripturally accurate. Even Paul who preaches God’s grace to humanity, acknowledges in his letters to the Churches he started that a fruit of the Holy Spirit working, saving us, is a change in our lifestyle. Works are a very important part to salvation, why? Not because they save us, but because they validate the real work of the Holy Spirit in us. Some might say I’m on shaky ground, I beg to differ, the Bible is full of verses that teach this. Of course the most popular being James 2:17, but then you have verses like Matthew 7:21, and of course the countless verses that Paul writes encouraging the Church to live a life of purity before God. If works didn’t matter then the New Testament would not be so full of verses supporting the system of saved by the grace of God, validated by the life we live.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. When it comes to the Christian faith, it is so important that we don’t windle down amazing truths in to bumper sticker slogans. Why? Because so often these slogans are not completely true! For example, I saw one the other day that said “too blessed to be depressed”. While a cute little saying that at first glance makes you say “Yeah so true!” Scripture will once again beg to differ. Paul was quite depressed (or discouraged) often in his ministry, being shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten, and cast out by his own nation, Paul wrote very often his struggle of spreading the message of Jesus to the masses. Paul was extremely blessed, and he always brought praise to God no matter what his circumstance, but sometimes those circumstances were extremely difficult emotionally, and yet Paul kept his eyes steadily on the Father. See the difference? The slogan tries to mask over the realities of this world, Paul collides with them head on, still considers himself blessed, and let’s God sustain him through his extremely difficult life. Or take Job for example, everything was taken away. If you read Job it’s clear that the word depressed doesn’t scratch the surface of what was happening, Job was honest with God in his pain, and Job never sinned. For some reason I cant’ see Job saying “God my wife and kids are all dead, but I’m too blessed to be depressed!”.
Some of you might be saying give it up TIm! It’s just a stupid little slogan who cares?!. God cares, because in a world that already muddies the truth, we don’t need to add to the noise. Often times we hear things like “too blessed to be depressed” and we get a little high off it. We say “Yeah! YEAH! I am to blessed!” the problem however is once we are faced with reality, that little slogan is soon gone like a vapor. It can’t stand up to the reality of our situations.
Here’s my bottom line, it’s not that every slogan out there is bad, or full of hot air, it’s just that we have to be very careful with what we say is true. If we are claiming to have the corner on truth (and we are loud about it), then everything we say about that truth, must be just that: True. We can’t claim to know the way to heaven, then agree with many things that are not in Scripture.
A good friend of mine who I love dearly told me regarding my view of slogans in Christianity “Maybe some of us just like a little uplifting slogan from time to time.”Here’s the thing, if it’s not true, then it’s a lie. There are only one of two options here, true, or not true. If it’s not true, I dont’ want to hear it, I don’t care how appealing it sounds. I’m not concerned about trying to feel good, I’m not concerned about feeling emotionally happy, I’m concerned with what the work of Jesus has done to humanity, and what it is still doing to humanity. I don’t want fluff do you? Do you want to be fed a bunch of happy one liners only to find out that it was like eating junk food? Tasted great going down but there was absolutely no nutritional value? Look for the truth of Jesus, not for the concentrated doses of statements that give you emotional highs. That’s not what is important here, the Kingdom of God is the most important thing because it is eternal, it is forever.