There is a van that sometimes parks in front of our house. It is your typical ghetto minivan, and I say typical for two reasons. One is that, in the back window, there is a large sticker proclaiming: “Jesus es Dios. Lea la biblia” (this is a bumper sticker campaign from one of the largest, most influential Hispanic churches here in L.A.). These stickers are EVERYWHERE in L.A., especially in immigrant communities like ours. The second reason is that, on the side of the van that faces our house (it always parks Northbound), there are these little decals that are grossly popular around here as well: a series of “bullet holes” that can be affixed to your car. From a distance, it honestly looks like the vehicle has been shot up.
I am confounded by the combination of these two decorations, and the identities they are seeking to represent. They are to me an absurd juxtaposition. I wonder if one is from a previous owner and the current owner has just not had the time or ability to remove them? But I also wonder if both have been placed there purposefully and if the owner sees no conflict in their marriage.
I find myself quick to judge this. How could an apparently committed follower of Jesus “decorate” themselves with symbols of death and sin? Why would they choose to mark themselves with something that seeks to give them some kind of perverse credibility or status?
As I walked past this van on my way to church recently I was struck, though, by the inconsistencies in my own attitude toward this van and its owner. Just because their cultural “markers” are so foreign to me, I am quick to call them out as hypocritical and offensive. But if I were to drive up to any number of churches here in L.A. on a Sunday morning, I would see “apparently committed followers of Jesus” who have likewise plastered themselves with icons smelling of death: the difference being that theirs are glittery, shiny, or silicone.
Many sermons have been preached on the “false gods” and idols of our age. Isn’t it true that it is so much easier to see them when they are being worshipped by someone else?