Monday, July 28, 2008

Is “Coexist” a Scriptural Concept?

When I’m not watching the Colorado scenery while driving around this beautiful state, I’m often observing other drivers around me. There are many things about another driver’s car or their driving habits that can tell you about the person inside. None is more revealing than the bumper sticker.

Some bumper stickers are entertaining, some advertise honor students, and some are there to make a public statement about politics, religion, or social beliefs. One display that I have noticed lately is particularly disturbing to me – the “Coexist” bumper sticker. It spells out the word “COEXIST” using a variety of symbols meant to represent various religions and philosophies. So what is the message being conveyed by a person displaying the sticker?

Let’s briefly look at each symbol, to gain an understanding of what the artist had in mind when they pulled these various symbols together.

The “C” is a crescent moon and star, most recently representing Islam but has also been used to represent the pagan worship of sun, moon and stars. The “O” is the peace sign, so prevalent in the 1960’s and 70’s. It represents the anti-nuclear, anti-war sentiment. The “E” is a combination of gender symbols, representing the viewpoint of both men and women. It has also been intimated that this combination can represent transgender viewpoints.

The “X” is represented by the Star of David, a reference to the Jewish faith. The “I” is dotted by a five pointed star enclosed by a circle. Known as a pentagram, it widely used in pagan cultism and is also considered Wiccan. Wicca is usually associated with witchcraft, and embodies a nature-based philosophy that preaches that a person may do almost whatever they like, as long as it brings no harm to others.

The “S” is made up of the Chinese Taoist symbol for yin and yang – representing the two opposing forces of nature. Finally, the “T” is represented as a cross, pointing to Jesus Christ and the manner of his death.

By grouping these symbols together in a clever way, the sticker tries to portray the concept that a mature individual will allow all of these viewpoints to thrive independently. It implies that if we could stop the bickering, we would be able to live as one in harmony with all beliefs intact. There would be no wars, no genocide, no mindless hate and the world would be a better place.

Allow me to state it a different way. When I see one of these bumper stickers it says to me, “I believe in a world where each individual is allowed to choose their philosophy of their own accord. The followers of Mohammed should stop preaching death to anyone not of the same mind. Instead, there should be mutual respect between them and the followers of the Lord Almighty, and they should live peacefully side-by-side, even though their religions may specifically preclude that option. Meanwhile, those who wish to worship nature should do so, free from war or any political demands that might be necessary to stop the policies of the occasional insane or maniacal world leader. Evil world leaders will not come to power if we have truly free elections in each nation. People should be at peace and in harmony with nature, though nature may occasionally throw in something chaotic like a tornado or a tsunami. Finally, men and women should put aside their differences and become unified in spirit, allowing the mutual things that guide us to take hold and direct our lives. Everyone is free to do their own thing, provided it is not done in a way to exclude or hurt any other group. No one group should have or seek dominion over any other group because truth is not an absolute principle, but rather is a concept of self-discovery and the definition of right and wrong may be different for each individual.”

Though this may be what we hear taught in our schools, universities, diversity training courses and through the media, this type of coexistence cannot and should not be brought about. It cannot, because the tenets of most religions exclude this very kind of tolerance, insisting instead that there is but one true belief. It should not, because this very acceptance denies the supremacy and divinity of God. The Lord demands this in Exodus 20:3, by telling us in the very first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Such intolerance is frowned upon in our culture, and yet it is the very thing that God commands.

Who do we believe possesses the keys to eternity – our ever-changing culture, or the Lord God, who does not change at all?

Fellow Christians, I appeal to you. The world would have you believe that nothing is absolute – that everything is relative and that even the most basic truths may not be true for all. But we must remain vigilant. There is only one God, and His laws and direction are the only right way. There is only one eternal outcome, and that is the one where the Lord God rules in heaven forever and ever. The other religions and beliefs will not be rewarded for ignoring the one God, and holding fast to their own principles.

In Ephesians 6:3-6, the apostle Paul directs this statement to the Christian church, about the Christian church – “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” His petition is for the one true church to be unified, but is not about striving for unity with other beliefs that deny his existence or lordship.

Just imagine for a moment how bumper stickers in heaven might differ from this one.

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