As Polly and I were traveling to Lake Erie and the Marblehead Lighthouse, we came upon the billboard pictured above. For Christians, the message is perfectly clear: Jesus or the Christian God loves them. However, for the unbeliever or the skeptic, the message is not so clear.
First, which God? Christians presuppose that their God is the one, true, and living God. All other gods are false deities. Since I don’t start my rational inquiry with the notion that the Christian God left this message for me or anyone else traveling by, I ask again, which God? This is the same argument I use when Christians try to argue that the wonders of the natural world testify to the existence of God. Fine, I say, so WHICH God? It is not evident from creation that the Christian God or any other God created everything. To come to the conclusion that the Christian God created everything as we now see it requires accepting as true what is written in Genesis 1-3, a belief that runs contrary to everything science tells us about the universe.
Second, the I ‘HEART” U message is not at all clear. Most people assume that the message means I love you. However, according to the Urban Dictionary, this phrase has several different meanings:
- Words uttered by a person not ready to say I love you
- Words not as serious as I love you
- I have feelings for you
- I love you
This undefined God, does he really love me, or does he just have feelings for me? Perhaps he is not ready to make a commitment to me. There is nothing in the message that would lead me to conclude that this God loves or has feelings for me. This is how I view the Bible, just ink on paper. There is nothing in the Bible that would lead me to conclude that the Christian God loves me.
You see, love is not measured by words on a printed billboard or page. Just because an undefined God’s name is attached to a nonspecific phrase like I ‘HEART’ U doesn’t mean that any specific God loves me. Polly and I will celebrate forty-five years of marriage next week. We’ve written a lot of letters to each other over the years, yet both of us would agree that love is shown, not in what a person says or writes on paper, but by what he or she does. In other words, when it comes it love, don’t tell me, show me.
We have an ancient book, the Bible, that tells us the Jewish/Christian God at one time, in the person of Jesus, walked among us, yet no one has drawn a picture or snapped a photograph of this God. All we have to go on are ancient writings by unknown authors. If knowing this I ‘HEART’ U God is so important, don’t you think he would make an appearance now and then and let us know that he is alive and kicking? Jesus could settle things right now for everyone by coming back to earth and working a few miracles. Allow the press to report the miracles, allow photographers to shoot the Son of Man doing his miracle show, and perhaps let National Geographic do a feature spread on the mighty works of the Lord. Better yet, Jesus could make an appearance on America’s Got Talent and give a miraculous performance — say raising someone from the dead or regrowing an amputated leg. Billions would fall on their knees and worship Jesus if this happened.
Instead, Jesus spends all his time building rooms in the heavenly Trump Hotel for his chosen ones. According to the Bible, when Jesus ascended back to Heaven, he left a spirit form of himself behind, the Holy Spirit/Ghost. Supposedly, this Spirit/Ghost lives inside every Christian, teaching them everything that pertains to life and godliness. Of course, there is no evidence given for this claim other than what is printed on the pages of the Bible.
If I believe what is written in the Bible about the nature and good works of the followers of Jesus, I can safely conclude that no one is a Christian. If the new life of the born-again Christian is supposed to be radically different from the life of the non-Christian, where can I find these radically different Christians? If the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, where are the Christians who evidence such fruit?
The proof of any religion is the product it produces. An apple tree might look nice with all its green foliage, but unless it blossoms and produces fruit it has no value. So it is with Christianity, especially here in the United States. It looks nice with all its ornate, expensive buildings and well-dressed clergy, but a Christianity that takes seriously the teachings of Jesus is nowhere to be found. Why is this? 2,000 years removed from Jesus, Christianity has been reduced to a generic, nondescript, cheesy slogan on a billboard. Is this all Christianity has to offer the world after twenty-one centuries?
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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