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.