Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sunrise vs. Bumper Stickers

Sunrise vs. Bumper Stickers
Originally written as a Facebook post, April 6, 2009

As I was driving to work today at 6:45 in the morning, I hit the endless stoplight at Burnet Road and Braker Lane. Usually it’s good for at least three full minutes, which isn’t that long, but at a stoplight it can be an eternity. I changed the radio station- really don’t care about the local car lot’s hail sale first thing in the morning, especially when it’s being screamed at me. I looked around, and noticed something awe-inspiring.

The last few weeks, it’s been either still dark or cloudy when I have left for work. Today, though, I saw the sunrise. It was an especially pretty one, full of yellows, reds, and oranges with a hint of blue on the edges of a few stray clouds. It looked like old-time Technicolor, and made the stoplight seem a little less significant.

I drove the last couple blocks to work, looking at this sunrise the whole time. I pulled into the parking lot, and noticed there were more cars than usual…we got some new people for the new indexing project. I pulled up next to a truck covered in colorful bumper stickers, and of course, read them as I got out of the car.

“Religion Kills Thought.” “Darwin: The Amphibians Can’t Be Wrong.” A Christian fish symbol with 2 stick-figure legs. The biggest and boldest of them all said “He Died in 33 A.D., Get Over It”.

Yes, it would seem I had parked next to an Atheist. This didn’t offend me, but it did get me thinking. I looked up at the sky with its pretty sunrise, then down at this truck. I thought “Hmm…if God died in 33 A.D., I wouldn’t be seeing that sky up there.” What did the owner of this truck, who must have seen the same thing I had on their drive, think of it? I know that there are people in the world, some of whom I call friends, who find it hard to believe that there is a higher power responsible for our daily existence. Personally, and especially when looking at things like this morning’s sunrise, I find it hard to believe that there ISN’T.

This person, with their witty bumper stickers, obviously believed strongly in what they said, and made sure they communicated that belief loud and clear. But what sadness that implied! This stuff, when you think about it, implied that this person had nothing to believe in, nothing to hope for. That the only reason they were on this planet, driving this colorfully-decorated truck into the brilliant sunrise, was because a fish randomly decided to breathe air. And since they believe Christ died in 33 A.D., and that religion kills thought, they’re certainly not looking forward to being anything more than what they are right now. With a mindset like that, I’m surprised they were even bothering to go to work in the morning.

I’m not trying to say that certain animal species don’t adapt and change with their environment. So do we, if you think about it. But for thousands of years, we’ve still remained essentially human, and we have managed to keep from destroying ourselves. I just can’t believe that we became what we are by chance. Besides, why would we be conscious of things like the colors in a sunrise, or the adaptations of fish in nature, or even the curiosity about where we came from if it didn’t matter? I don’t think the amphibians think too hard about that sort of thing.

I believe that religion doesn’t kill thought, but makes it possible. I believe that God created everything in the universe, and that includes fish, frogs, sunrises, and us. It may work so much like clockwork that we ignore it most of the time, but that’s what’s so brilliant about it. The sun rises every day, thanks to a specific rotation and orbit of the planet. It’s TOO specific to be random. There was a man named Jesus who died back in 33 A.D., but I believe there was more to it than that, and so do billions of other people nearly 2,000 years later. We believe that Jesus was in fact God, the creator of everything we’re aware of and more, who knew He’d dealt us a bum steer…he had given us a set of commandments and the conscious thought with which to understand them, but He also made us proned to disobey them. So He came to us in the form of Jesus, one of us, and showed us how to live by His word. And just so we’d be sure He wasn’t just a crazy man walking around ticking off religious officials and politicians, he allowed Himself to be killed, showed us He was good and dead, then the next day got up and walked again.

No other living thing in history, human, animal, or otherwise, has ever done that. Nobody’s been dead, stayed dead long enough that they could be nothing but dead, and then gotten up and walked into town to shake hands with the very people who had hours earlier pronounced Him dead. The only thing Jesus asked those people to do with this information was to tell others what they’d seen, that they’d seen it because Jesus was, in fact, God, and just for believing their own eyes and following what Jesus had taught them, they’d spend eternity in Heaven. And to prove THAT, he physically ascended up there in plain view, with enough witnesses that people are still believing it 2,000 years later.

He gave us the choice, though. We can choose to believe that God came to us in the form of Jesus to show us how to live the way He wanted us to, and invited us to come chill with Him for eternity when we were finished with that. Or, we can choose to believe that we’re nothing more than a random accident with no reason to believe anything, and we can go that route for eternity as well…we just won’t find it pleasant, in fact, quite the opposite.

I choose to believe I was saved from an unpleasant eternity by the God who put that sky up there above ....Austin.... this morning. I’d say that was a superior work of art to that truck covered in vinyl witticisms, and I’d like to know how it was done. Jesus told me what I have to do to find out. Sure, He died in 33 A.D., but that sticker left off the ending!

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