St. John Paul II once said, “The battle for hearts is won on the battlefield of bumpers…” Ok, he actually never said that. In fact, I don’t think he ever said anything remotely close that. Our late and beloved Pope, a pioneer in evangelization, would’ve probably even advised against it and that’s not just because it wouldn’t fit on the Pope-mobile.
If we are to share the freedom-reigning truths of our faith its important for us to understand one thing first. We are not professing an idea, or an opinion, as Catholics we are always first and foremost professing a person. “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” We continue to learn from our Holy Shepherds as we hear these wonderful words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Too often in the world when I see a moment of differing views, it often turns into a battle of shaming one another. Each side brings up all the flaws in the other's view and they go head to head until one is expected to falter finally under the guilt of the other’s violently pointed finger.
Bumper stickers are the arena for this heartless chatter as it allows for extremely personal opinions to be expressed in a completely impersonal manner. Truly, its an injustice to whatever the person’s just cause may be. Your letting an opinion just be an opinion. There is no longer a person standing behind this inseparably personal matter. Therefore on bumper stickers, unborn babies remain fetal tissue without the presence of a real mother. Therefore, people with same sex attraction still feel alienated because they are told to leave what they love without offering in return any other kind of chaste love to fill the void. Therefore, bumper-sticker Atheist remain distant from God because bumper-sticker Christians stay distant from them.
You may see the pattern: No Beating Heart, No Credibility. All the world outside of Christianity receives is a cold, metal, bumper.
The cold hard truth is that no one has ever been converted by a bumper sticker. I have never heard a testimony were they said, “Then I read the bumper sticker in front of me and I turned my life around, I immediately gave up the gay lifestyle I had been living for ten years and quickly transformed my life into a perfectly chaste abiding Christian.” St. Paul wasn’t converted by a Camel Back Bumper Sticker, he was converted because he encountered a living person- Jesus of Nazareth!
If we are to convert anyone it will be because they encounter the person of Christ within us. They will be drawn to us not because of our over-convicted opinions, but by our love and mercy. If you want an Atheist to meet Jesus, let them meet you. If you want a gay person to believe in chaste love, let them experience it from you. If you want a person to change their mind on abortion then reveal to them the dignity of their life by the way you care for them.
“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” May we be Christians of the person of Christ, and not just Christians of the opinion of Christ. An opinion is a theory, a person is a physical encounter. Jesus is not a theory, he is my friend, he is my Shepherd, and I will never reduce him to a sticker.
I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Comedian, Demetri Martin, “I don't mind bumper stickers. To me a bumper sticker is a shortcut. It's like a little sign that says 'Hey, let's never hang out.'"