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March 28, 2008

Innocent arrogance

Honkifyoulovejesus250 John Fischer has been having some fun -- and stirring up some controversy -- this week with his devotionals on Christian bumper stickers. The point of the exercise is not really to make fun of bumper stickers, though -- it's to puncture what one of John's commenters calls the "innocent arrogance" of Christians who haven't learned to try seeing things from the unbeliever's point of view.

For instance, John says:

Dolores, another of our readers writes: "My husband was a printer, and he loved the Lord, but he could always see things from the unsaved point of view. He found one bumper sticker particularly arrogant. Many cars in our area had one. It read: 'In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned.' So my husband printed up his own bumper sticker that read, "'In case of rapture, can I have your car?'"

Now that's identification! Her husband understood unbelievers so well that he created a bumper sticker just for them that didn't presume or pressure their salvation. I love that. You know, if all those rapture people are going to heaven, I just might want to stay back, too.

Of course, I'm one to talk; I can remember when we used to love the rapture thing, only our sticker was inside the car. It was a little sign we put on the dashboard: "In case of rapture, grab the wheel; the driver of this car is saved." How arrogant is that -- to assume the passenger in the car isn't! . . .

But this is where Dolores' story turns ugly. "He (her husband) had to print up two more (his version of the rapture sticker) because the first and second stickers were pulled off of our car, crumpled up and thrown on the ground while we were in church!"

The point is, as John goes on to say, "Not too many Christians want to identify with the left behind, but until we do, we won't have the compassion to bring anyone to Christ."

Click here to read more about our innocent arrogance and how to overcome it (and click here and here for the first two bumper sticker devotionals).

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Steve (SBK)

Here's my bumper sticker thought:

One-liners don't simplify the message (except this one) :P

Rolley Haggard

I wonder how many of us have encountered the “innocent arrogance” of well-meaning folks like Pastor Symonds, whom I dubbed,

“A Man After God’s Own Spleen”

Pastor Symonds arrived at the hospital too late; Everett Bigelow was dead. The doctor had just broken the news to the family and was attempting to console the wife, Adrian, and the two young children, Philip and Susan. Several other friends and relatives were present, sharing the grief of bereavement. Among them was Randolph Murray, whom, Symonds recalled with dismay, was a universalist minister. Murray took over where the doctor left off:

"There, now, Adrian. Remember, Everett is in heaven now, free from suffering forever. This sudden separation, though painful to us all because we all loved Everett so much, is only temporary, until we are all reunited together in everlasting bliss."

"Thank you, Randolph", she said, wiping her eyes. "You're very kind. It, it's just not easy...." Adrian's voice broke with emotion.

"No, of course it isn't." Randolph put his arm around her. "Death is the most unbearable parting any of us has to endure. The Bible even calls death an enemy, so we ought to hate it. But the wonderful thing is, death is a defeated enemy. Its influence is only temporary and superficial. Here, let me show you something."

As Randolph opened a Bible, all the family members and friends gathered around, hungry to hear some words of comfort. Symonds found himself among them, listening intently as Randolph read.

"Listen to this wonderful passage of Scripture: 'For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death, is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?'"

Yes, but that applies to born-again Christians, Symonds found himself thinking.

"And here is another passage in the book of Revelation: 'And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.'"

Yes, but that applies to CHRISTIANS! Symonds could hardly contain himself. And Everett Bigelow, he mused, moral and upright a person as he unquestionably was, was certainly not a Christian. He rarely, if ever, even attended church. Symonds felt duty-bound to say something.

"Yes", he said, and suddenly all eyes were upon him, noticing him for the first time.

"There is great comfort for all who have been born again through personal faith in Jesus Christ."

He and Randolph exhanged momentary, knowing looks, but said nothing to one another.

Adrian, regaining a measure of self-control, and oblivious to the warfare brewing, spoke.

"Yes, yes. Thank you. Both of you. You're both very kind. Everett was a good Christian man, the best man I've ever known, a perfect husband and father. I know there's a place in heaven for him."

Symond's mind raced. Things were getting out of hand. He recalled a number of Scripture verses that, under the circumstances, he strongly suspected were being brought to his recollection by the Holy Spirit. A couple of verses fit the situation perfectly. For example, "There is none righteous, no not one;” and, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but God." Symonds was in a dilemma. He knew that error uncorrected (and, after all, Scripture is profitable for correction) could lead a soul away from Christ ("if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him, let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death"). He also knew that as an evangelical pastor, he was under divine obligation to "cry aloud and spare not". The duty clearly was his. He knew he could leave to God the consequences of his being faithful in this matter. Even so, he was reluctant to upset these poor, sorrowing souls, to dash the hopes (false though they were) to which they held so tenaciously in this their hour of extreme trial. He looked at little Philip, who clung tightly to his mother's side, eyes red with tears.

"Here, Adrian," Randolph said, gently placing in her hand a small, green booklet. "This is a book of verse that many in our congregation have found very uplifting in just such times as these."

Symonds noted with horror that the book bore the inscription of a well-known universalist publisher on the spine. He could feel the Spirit prompting him to action. But what to say? And when? Symonds was inclined to approach Adrian later, at a more opportune time. But after hasty reflection he dismissed that cowardly notion with a "get thee behind me, Satan!" He was not ignorant of the devil's wiles. It was clear the public reputation of God was at stake here, and there were no less than nine souls (Symonds counted) who were being led astray by the heretical doctrine of Randolph Murray. No, now was definitely the time, and this was the place, Symonds decided. And though it was a dreadful responsibility, as a minister of the gospel of Christ, he knew he could not shirk it. "What ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops", he heard the Spirit say. And "whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed." And, "woe unto me if I preach not the gospel!"

The little group was preparing to leave, gathering up purses and belongings, replacing magazines, when Pastor Symonds, now full of the Spirit and of power, opened his mouth and thus spake boldly in a loud voice:

"There are some other passages I think we all ought to look at before we go our separate ways." And so saying, he proceeded to read to them from the prophet Ezekiel, Chapter 3 verses 17 through 19...

© Rolley Haggard

Gina Dalfonzo

Rolley, you make me think of those kind, well-meaning souls -- including some of the people I care about most in this world -- who have asked me after the deaths of relatives, "Was she (or he) saved?" As I say, these were people I love and respect, and strong believers, but I was stunned that they would say such a thing at such a time. I remember thinking, "What the heck are you going to say if I say 'No'??"

Rolley Haggard

Gina, yep I’ve been there. In such situations when I do finally get over my flabbergastedness (I like to coin new words), I often say simply, “God knows”, even when conventional wisdom says, they probably weren’t saved. In the back of my mind I’m thinking Matthew 10:31, “many that are first shall be last; and the last first.” But I’m also thinking 1 Corinthians 13:7, “love believeth all things.” If it were perfectly cut and dried who’s in and who’s out, there would be no need for a Judge (cf. Romans 2:16).

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