I was in traffic today and found myself sitting behind a big, full-size Chevy truck which sported a message across its tailgate, a message of the sort one usually sees on bumper stickers. These words were actually attached to the tail, perhaps by a professional auto detailer, as a permanent decal.
On the left side, were the words “343 Never Forgotten,” and on the right, “911 Never Forgiven.” Apparently, the 343 refers to the number of New York City firefighters who died on Sept. 11th, 2001. That seems like a worthwhile message, whether on an auto decal or wherever. The other one, however, makes me scratch my head a little… “Never forgiven?…”
As I contemplated this message, I was reminded of a bumper sticker I used to see on a car on the University of Portland campus during the year that my daughter was in attendance there. It was, as I recall, a medium green color and simply said, “What if we loved our enemies?”
What strikes me about these two messages is that, up until a few years ago, I would probably have felt a very different kind of initial reaction to each of them from the reactions I seem to feel nowadays. I grew up in a family which taught me the value system of what I would now call “God and country evangelicalism”—GCE for short. 🙂
If I had seen these messages on cars a few years ago, I would almost certainly have jumped to the following conclusions: First, the guy (assuming it was a guy) in the Chevy was a good ol’ boy who loved his country and was passionate in his caring about what happened on 9/11, even if his message was communicated in terms slightly too strong. Second, that the person with the “love” sticker was a ‘flaming liberal puke’ who would probably give away the country to any terrorist who could smile sweetly enough.
Now, however, I feel an odd sense of wishing I could meet both of these people. I am curious about the lives they have lived which have brought them to these convictions. (I also wonder why they would want to share them with all of us who might be in traffic with them.)
Without passing any judgment on either of them, I find myself imagining the possibility that they both might claim to have some sort of Christian faith. Then I wonder how each might respond to the challenge to explain his or her message in light of the Scriptures, especially the teaching of the Lord Jesus in the gospels.
It makes me curious….