Coexist?


Recently, I have been seeing a lot of “Coexist” bumper stickers (maybe it’s because I live in a college town). If you don’t know what I’m referring to, click this link to see the picture. From left to right, each symbol stands for Islam, Pacifism, Gay Rights, Judaism, Pagan, Taoism, and Christianity, respectively.

I’ll admit that at first, the slight bit of “hippie” in me came out (I guess you could blame my growing up on the beach), so I liked the concept. Sure, it would be nice for religions to peacefully, as this sticker says, “coexist,” for wars to not occur because of religious tensions, and for each member of each group to respect one another.

But, as I saw more and more of these bumper stickers—at least two every time I drive somewhere—I began to really question their motive. I began to see how impossible this idea of “coexisting” is.

Just to give an overview, the Islamic faith isn’t particularly fond of Christianity (think Jihad), which makes pacifism impossible if Muslim extremists want to attack Americans or other groups (think September 11). Christians believe in the sanctity of marriage, and thus are not fond of “gay rights.” Muslims and Jews can’t seem to get along (think the debate over Israel), etc., etc., etc. This picture does a better job of explaining it.

I think, as Christians, we are faced with a difficult task here. Do we support this idea of coexisting (in an attempt to show our love for others, regardless of their religious beliefs) or do we reveal the inadequacies of its intentions? We’ve read ahead in the Bible to Revelation and know the unfortunate fate of this world. Yet, while we are equipped with this knowledge, that doesn’t mean we won’t love Muslims, pacifists, gays, Jews, pagans, Taos, and our fellow Christians. Indeed, we are called to do so. It is our job, as followers of Christ, to love and to serve, just as He did.

Christ “coexisted,” if you will, with others—and yet He didn’t. He loved others, but he didn’t just peacefully let them go through life. Christ wouldn’t just let Muslims continue to worship Allah. He wouldn’t let pagans continue to worship false gods. He wouldn’t let homosexuals continue to sin. And He wouldn’t let Taos continue to search after this false principle of a “path,” as they call it. Why? Because He knows what is best for the people on this earth trying to “coexist.” Christ knows that God is the God of the Universe (contradictory to Islam), that sin separates us from Him (contradictory to the claims of many homosexual activists), and that He is the “way, the truth, and the light” (contradictory to Taoism).

So, while this idea of coexisting may have good intentions, I think it is important for Christians to not get captivated by this “unreal” goal of everyone peacefully living on this earth together. It won’t happen. But as Christians, we have something better than this idea of coexisting. We have love. And we have Love, with a capital L. We don’t want to merely coexist, and not because we hate other religions. We know that our Treasure is so great that is seems absurd to let others “peacefully” go about their lives, and to let others peacefully live out their other religions, not exposing them to Christ.

So, my proposal is this: Let’s replace the word “coexist” with the word “love”. . . not on cars, but in our hearts. We don’t need a bumper sticker to share our mission; we need the Gospel.


Comments:

Well to be fair, I don't think many Hindus practice sutee anymore and if they do it is illegal. Apparently they decided to coexist with English customs. In any case Hinduism is so labyrinthine that it is hard to say what Hindus "believe" beyond pantheism. From what I can make out it is mysticism for Brahmins(clerics) and paganism for Vaisa(peasants). With so many complications to that that explaining is to much. And ritualism for everyone.

I have heard it said that Buddhism is a Brahmin revolt against "orthodox"(so to speak)Hinduism and Sikhism is a Kshitrya(warrior)revolt against it. Two separate "reformations" as it were. I know a lot of Sikh official doctrines can be summed up in "We are not Hindus".
I've seen the stickers, too. It just occurs to me there's no symbol for Hindus or Buddhists. I'm not sure what symbol to use for a Hindu, but presumably using a swastika (an ancient and revered symbol in Buddhism; go to Japan and it's the common symbol on maps for Buddhist temples) would call up some unpleasant connotations.

It is rather interesting to see gay rights depicted as virtually a religion, though in many respects it seems rather appropriate.

But how do we simply "coexist" with a religion that teaches that a woman's word is worth half a man's (Islam), or that a widow ought to self-immolate on her husband's funeral pyre, and an entire class of people is so worthless that it is literally untouchable (Hinduism)? Those who claim all religions really just teach the same thing are proclaiming their own ignorance, and their lack of respect for any religion. They are also implicitly saying that all religions are wrong in the truth claims they make; a truly believing Christian and a truly believing Muslim may actually be more respectful to each other because we recognize that we're making claims about reality, not just random stories that can be discarded at will.
In my classes I tell my students that the good news when talking to unbelievers is that most of them don't know why they believe what they believe. Those with this bumper sticker are examples of that. I have also seen asimilar bumper sticker that uses the symbols for the word contradict.
I agree with Mo, people who admire these coexist bumper stickers probably don't even know what each of these faith or belief systems teach. I used to be such a person before accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior--I just couldn't understand why we couldn't live together. Today, I have a much clearer understanding on what Christianity, Judaism are as well as the others. It is apparent that this idea of coexistence will be the main doctrine of the upcoming One World Religion.
Understood, Jason, and quite reasonable.

Regarding the end times, I share your mixed feelings about it. It seems like most Christians I hear talking about it are eager for it to happen. I, however, know and like too many people who probably wouldn't fare too well, and that thought gives me no pleasure or eagerness to see it happen.
Equally to the point they are sloppy about the Law of Noncontradiction. It is impossible to have a pacifist Islam. Come to think of it there is no pacifist religion except Jainism though their are pacifist sub-sects.
Sorry Kevin. I just think being a heroic starship captain sounds really cool.

Or to put it in a more dignified way, I can create the future in a way I want, and make an elaborate civilization.

Besides being a heroic starship captain does sound really cool.

But there is little real piety about it. I am not looking forward to the second coming particularly. Why should I? I will die anyway, and from what I'm told the second coming is kind of hard on everyone else.
I would bet any amount of money that those people who use or admire these COEXIST bumper stickers have no idea what any of these faiths/belief systems even teach.

It's just incoherent, childish, "let's all hold hands and sing 'Kumbaya'!" pontificating by those who think that using an incoherent slogan gives them the moral high ground.

Call them on it.
That's interesting, Jason. A lot of people have a longing for days past, which they think of as simpler and/or better, or just a better fit for them. But I'm curious: What about the future do you find appealing? Is it anticipation of Jesus's return and what follows, or are you thinking in terms of the world of the future but pre-Second Coming?
Oh probably, though I always wondered what was so important about being with the times. I have always been more comfortatable several either generations in the future or generations in the past myself.
We might want to credit these folks with good intentions, but something tells me that if you talked with them about what exactly they're trying to say, a lot of the responses would be that Christians need to just shut up and get with the times.




BreakPoint Blog

Banner