Mixed messages

thThere is a bar in Laguna Beach, CA that becomes a celebrated biker hangout every Sunday afternoon. There is always a live band playing and rows of gleaming Harleys on either side of the street, with people inspecting them as if they were in a showroom.

The riders all leave their helmets out with their bikes, and I’ve found the helmets to be a study all their own. The most popular look like they are from World War I, with various kinds of rebel markings, and a few have little stickers that serve as a sort of biker bumper sticker. One I saw particularly caught my attention because it said, “JESUS LOVES YOU.”

Now I am aware that there are various biker ministries out there where committed followers ride for Christ and seek to spread the word about his grace and forgiveness. I have always loved this – the Gospel in a rebel context – being aware that the message of Christ is in some ways better suited there than it is in more respectable circles. You can’t read about Jesus without coming to the conclusion that he would be right at home with the biker crowd.

But as I got closer to the Jesus sticker, I noticed there was another message in much smaller print underneath the more visible “JESUS LOVES YOU.” It read: “I think you’re a jerk!” (That isn’t exactly what it said, but it will work for our purposes.)

At first, I was somewhat repulsed. Where I thought I had a Jesus biker, I actually had a form of sacrilege. But the more I thought about it, I realized there probably was more than a kernel of truth in this version of a familiar Christian message.

I can think of times when I might as well have been sporting a “JESUS LOVES YOU; I think you’re a jerk” sticker for all the thoughts I harbored toward the people to whom I was announcing His love. And, of a certainty, He does love them. The question is, do I?

“How can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” wrote James (2:1), or in the words of John: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar” (1 John 4:20).

It’s not enough just to announce the love of Jesus without loving the same people he loves. If “Jesus loves you” is going to be our message, we need to make sure that we do too.

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9 Responses to Mixed messages

  1. Mark S. says:

    Thx 4 today’s Catch Pastor John, I needed this reminder…

  2. Meaghan-Margaret Evans says:

    Me too!

  3. John, my experience with bikers is not that they are rebels, per se, but just guys following their own path. Most of the ones I’ve known are conservative, good-hearted guys that love America and the open road. These are the guys that are keeping the real America alive, as they take to the streets and backroads of small town America and shun the convenience of the Interstate. Many of them are small business owners. They love the American dream – the real American dream, of freedom and equality – as much as any soldier, which many of them have been.

    A lot of these guys are Christians, even though they don’t sport a Christian bumper sticker. Most have families. Like most other groups in America, they’ve been stereotyped as rebels and outsiders. In my mind, they’re the insiders and the rest of us are the outsiders. Maybe they ought to be evangelizing us.

  4. TimC says:

    And if I read the Gospels correctly Jesus would have been hanging out there with the outcasts, rebels, tax gatherers, sinners and such.

  5. harbacke says:

    Love this! So many of my 50-something peers are getting Harleys and being part of the open road, loving on whomever they come across. It’s stellar.

  6. Carole in Midland says:

    To Tim C – make that outcasts, rebels, tax gatherers, sinners,and the others just like us – I think we all fit in that group somewhere. Good thing, too, huh?

    I remember something my mom used to say to me – quite often, in fact – “I always love you, but sometimes I don’t like you very much.” I’m thinking how much easier it is to love some folks from a distance than it is up close and personal; how much easier it is to do some kindness and walk away than it is to love someone we don’t like day after day, year after year… . We don’t have to like someone to love them, but it seems it gets easier to LIKE them when we stop making it our business to “change” them into replicas of ourselves.
    I heard an add for a Christian College the other day that was offering a seminar on “How to be a Christian in College.” I thought, wonder if they offer a seminar to dogs on how to bark, too?
    Wonder where we got the idea that “conforming to the likeness of Christ” was equivalent to “conforming to the likeness of ‘me'”?

    • Mark S. says:

      felt a need to add a big Amen to this: “…when we stop making it our business to “change” them into replicas of ourselves.” mostly because i know, that i know how much this applies to me! and thx my other Catch buddy Carole, appreciate it and you…

    • TimC says:

      Right, thanks for the clarification. That thought was in my head, I just didn’t get it out of there.

  7. Ron Jones says:

    “And the people said, ‘Amen'”

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