Today, in a parking lot I saw a Bumper Sticker: “TRY JESUS! If you don’t like Him, the devil will always take you back.”
There is so much wrong doctrinally and theologically from a Christian standpoint on that sticker, I hardly know where to begin. Yet what it reminded me was of those phrases I often heard, and even as a Christian, did not understand how pragmatically one was supposed to implement them.
I know how to try the No. 5 at the local China Buffet. I know how to try Para-sailing. I know how to try on a pair of shorts. How does a person “try” Jesus? Can I take a sample and see how He tastes? How he feels? Whether I am comfortable “trying” Jesus?
I think Christianity is an all-or-nothing prospect. What would we say if we heard a Person saying “Oh, I have been trying Jesus for a few years. Seems a pretty good fit, but I’m not certain I want to commit to it yet.”
And what are the steps I am to take to “Try Jesus”? Attempt to be a Christian by my actions? (Uh-oh. Sounds like salvation by works.) Go to a Church that preaches Jesus? Make myself believe in Jesus? How is it that everything that is required to “Try Jesus” is based on my works? On my efforts? On what I do?
I understand that person is just selling for Jesus. It was a stark reminder to me, that if I don’t believe in Christianity—it is my fault. I didn’t try hard enough, apparently.
“Let Go and Let God.”
This one puzzled me as to how to pragmatically implement it. Again, I grasped the underlying idea of not worrying about a certain endeavor, or sin, and to trust God to take care of it.
Seriously, though, how does one take the necessary steps to give it to God? Sure, I would pray, and envision myself handing God the worry, or the sin. And I could picture God taking it from me. For a moment there was relief and freedom. Then time would pass…and, being human, I would sashay up to God and take it back.
I thought the point was to give it to God and he was to get rid of the problem. He was supposed to be an incinerator—not a holding tank. What seemed to me (and in observing other Christians) is that we gave it to God, and took it back. Gave it to God and took it back. It was like an ATM. Sure, we think we are frugally saving money. Yet if we needed a quick $20, rather than reach in our wallet, we can pop over to the ATM.
Hey, God—if you really want to help out; how about taking it and not letting me take it right back!
“If God is for us; who can be against us?”
If you listened to the bellyaching in the churches I attended, the “who” that was against us was Hollywood, the Government, the Court System, the entire Scientific Community, the IRS, the Catholics, the Lutherans, the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Heathens, and the secular society as a whole. Oh, and the Democrats.
And from the amount of whining, one would have thought that America was on the brink of declaring Christianity illegal. For a collection of people that claimed to be tapped into God, we sure acted as if God needed our help every step of the way, or all the “who’s” that were against us would bulldoze us under in a flat second.
“Christ is all I need.”
…Said the man in the Potluck line, loading his plate for the third time, while discussing his Stock Portfolio with the Assistant Pastor who can’t wait to ask him about the gas mileage on his new Hummer parked in the three-car garage attached to the six bedroom/five bathroom home only he and his wife live in.
If Christ is all you need, how come there are three credit cards in your wallet right now?
“Prayer Changes Things.”
Unless God wants you to die. Or doesn’t want you to get that job. Or wants you to be sick. Or wants it to rain on your romantic picnic.
Then the Prayers just sit there.
Even as a Christian, those phrases made me cringe. They sounded cutesy and trite. O.K. for a bumper sticker in a parking lot, but to a person who was truly hurting, they were a way of brushing them off with a hackneyed expression and self-congratulatory feeling of having done some noble Christian work.
I did “Try Jesus.” Liked Him, too. Unfortunately, I found a loose string and pulled. By the time I was done, there was nothing left to try on.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)