Bad Theology on Bumper Stickers

Ok, I’m going out on a limb. If this bumper sticker is on the back of your car, I’m in trouble. I’ve seen before, but I saw it a few days ago with new eyes:

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

I know what it’s meant to say…wake up, there is more to life than eating, drinking, buying, and selling. Don’t dither your way to the grave collecting a bunch of stuff that they won’t let you take with you.

But when you examine it more closely. When you consider the wisdom of that bumper sticker with a careful, critical eye….it’s — well, to be technical — stupid.

Just exactly what is the human experience if it is not spiritual and what is a spiritual experience if it is not human?

Think about it…

Are the choices you make about what you do with your body really empty of spiritual significance?
Is the way you rear your children without spiritual consequences?
Are the ways in which you spend money a guide to what you really value?
Are you really untouched by being a man? By being a woman?
Have all the experiences you have had, growing up, winning, losing, loving, grieving, left you spiritually untouched?

And if you took all of that human behavior out of the equation, what would be left?

What is spiritual experience if it isn’t grounded in life?

And what on earth — or anywhere else, for that matter — are we talking about when we talk about spiritual beings that aren’t human?

Are we talking about Zombies? Martians? The life of bees?

The truth is we are both human and spiritual — and to fail to acknowledge that we are both closes us off to important truths.

The truth that our lives are an integrated whole.
The truth that we can be fully healed, body, mind, and soul.
The truth that our bodies are not less important than our spirits.
The truth that our minds need not be at war with our souls.
The truth that our emotions can serve us as spiritual guides.

And that, at least in part, is what Jesus is telling his disciples —- the resurrection changes everything. The spirit of truth is going to show you how. And the message is this: “God loves you better than you love yourself and you were meant for glory.” Put that on a bumper sticker.

God in human form, experiences life, plows the way spiritually, shows us what transformed, liberated, God-centered life looks like and —- then —- in the resurrection of his body, pronounces that which was always good, the object of God’s love.

I am convinced that life brings every one of us to the point where we recognize the need for a healing word that promises we are loved.

The mother or father who loses a child needs to know that their child is loved, cradled and embraced by a God who doesn’t know children generically, but loves their Christie, Bobby, or Jenifer.

The person who loses a job wants to know that God loves him or her, values her, and that his self-worth did not evaporate along with the job.

The person who struggles with a critical diagnosis wants to know that he or she is still Robert or Martha — and not the cancer patient or heart attack in room in 316.

And even when things go well, we all need to believe that the decisions we make in our homes, on the job, and in our communities have spiritual consequences and bless the lives of others.

Human life is spiritual and spiritual life is human.

2 Responses to “Bad Theology on Bumper Stickers”

  1. Carol Lawson says:

    When one does recognize how true the statement is that the resurrection changes everything then dramatically our lives do change. Jesus said it was expedient that He return to His Father so that He could send us the Comforter. He kept His Word. Consequently He is with us at all times and in every way until the end. Considering the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon those in the upper room and what happened next as they stood boldly before the crowd and without hesitation to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord instead of huddling in fear behind closed doors then we are wise to pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Without the resurrection of Jesus our faith would be in vain. We are vessels of clay with the greatest glory living in us which indeed makes us spirit and body.

  2. Geoffrey says:

    Thank you for your, loving truths!

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