The bumper sticker in front of me said:
Red background. Big black letters. No cross, no Jesus face, just red and letters.
I stared at it. Something was wrong. Not the sticker itself; it wasn't crooked. It was perfectly placed on the lower right edge of the bumper of the silver car in front of me. It was the statement that bugged me.
Is Jesus really something to TRY?
Try this drink.
Try a slice.
Try this on for size.
Try this just once.
or You've tried everything else, now TRY JESUS!
Maybe the pot or the crystal or the heroin didn't keep you in the happy place long enough? The vodka didn't drown out all the unhappy moments like you'd hoped? Or maybe it was sex or drugs or shopping, or work, or pain pills or gambling or pornography or partying or the house-cluttering collection of creepy antique dolls - you tried it all and well, you're no happier, no better off and still looking for that place called peace. You tried, you really did. Well, friend maybe it is time now to:
Yup, as a Christian, that bugs me. It's not that I don't think people can find hope and healing in Jesus and rise above their addictions, toil, despair and pain and find rest, healing and peace in Him. Many do. He's helped me and continues to provide the strength everyday to ignore the monkeys that cackle from the trees along my path, the ones who are always looking to jump down on to my back. It's just that as a Christian, I don't TRY Jesus. Actually, if I am trying Jesus in any way, I am probably TRYING HIS PATIENCE because I am usually TRYING TO IGNORE HIM so I can do things my own way.
Look, I know this bumper sticker has a good heart. It really does. It is a nice, friendly, fun-loving bumper sticker that always remembers your birthday and puts the toilet seat down. But still. I think it's sentiment is a little misplaced. Jesus is not something I try. Jesus just is. Jesus has always been. He is life. He is mine, not for the trying, but for the loving. He doesn't want me to try. He wants me to surrender, to believe, to love and to live for him. He is not a cosmic vending machine.
Want happiness? Press G8 for Jesus!
Oh no! I accidently pushed G9! I guess I'll have to settle for the Cool Ranch Doritos. I'll try again tomorrow. Could have been worse -- those Flaming Hot Cheetos were G7.
Jesus is not someone I try. He is someone I trust and love.
Imagine being on your first date. The person across the pile of spaghetti from you says (with a little bit of red sauce on their chin): "I know you've tried all the others. Now try me baby!" It wouldn't just be the red chin and the garlic on their breath that would turn you off. See what I mean? When it comes to a person, you don't TRY them. And when it comes to the God-incarnate person of Jesus - even less so.
Jesus may be the last one I choose, but he is not a last resort, a final try. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. (And all points in between!) He is King. Savior. Holy God. In fact, maybe Jesus shouldn't even be on a bumper sticker? But if he must...May I suggest the following instead of Try Jesus?
Acknowledge Jesus. (Hey, it's a start!)
Love Jesus. (Easy to say, hard to do!)
Worship Jesus. (Pentecostals love this one. The Methodists ask "OK, but do I have to lift my hands?")
Praise Jesus. (This one might cause people to think you're a really holy-rolling pew hopper, so only put this sticker on your car if you live in the South or go to a charismatic church.)
Obey Jesus. (Not a best seller.)
Try Jesus. Then stop trying and let grace take over. (A hit with the Lutherans.)
Or how about a bumper sticker that just says:
People will see this one and ask, "What about him? Wait, that's it?! Just JESUS? What is that all about?" And the discussion begins...suddenly, hopefully, people are talking about Jesus. (Unless you're driving 50 mph in the fast lane. Then, they're talking about YOU.) They're not wondering if they should TRY him. They're wondering ABOUT him. I've been told about Jesus for many years and I still wonder about him. I wonder, I think, I contemplate - who is this God-man who came to earth to save me? And then as I study, as I listen, as I pray, I realize:
I'm really glad Jesus is so much more than a bumper sticker. So much more than just something I "try."
But I still think you should give him a try if you're wondering.
-H. Horner, 2012
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