There 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.