Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"God Bless Everyone: No Exceptions" Really?




Charlottesville is a big bumper sticker town.  One new bumper sticker I've noticed lately says, "God bless everyone, No Exceptions."  A close cousin says, "God bless the whole world, No exceptions."  So when I read this I was wondering what exactly I'm supposed to think.  Does God bless everyone?  Yes, he does.  "The LORD is good to all" (Psalm 145:9).  He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good and the rain to fall on the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45).  The message seems to be aimed at some group (Christians?) who, it is assumed, do not want God to bless all men.  This certainly would not be Christians, since Scripture itself commands that believers pray for all men (1 Tim 2:1).  Perhaps the point of the message is that God should bless (approve of?) all men regardless of who they are or what they do.  Really?  That sounds good until you begin to think about it a little further.  Do we really want God to bless child molesters in their child molesting? Rapists in the raping?  Murderers in their murdering?  Robbers in their robbing?  Maimers in their maiming?  Drug dealers in their drug dealing?  Do we really want a holy God to bless all men and all their activities?  Or do we want him to be their Judge?       

7 comments:

Mad Jack said...

Having given considerable thought to this situation and devoted a little time to reading about it, I've arrived at the following conclusions:
The Lord loves us all equally and unconditionally, but He does not like the shenanigans we pull. It is we, as individuals, that he loves.
The Lord is merciful and does not give us what we deserve. Instead He forgives us when we ask for forgiveness, helps us when we ask for help and guides us when we ask for guidance. He promised to do these things and more, and He never breaks a promise. And remember, never say 'never' or 'always' unless you're talking about the Lord.

We rarely hear about real Christians. You'll generally encounter the real deal when you least expect it, and the person you meet will most often be someone who will just pass the time with you unless you ask for help, in which case help will be forthcoming. For instance:

In 2010 I spent Christmas in New Orleans instead of at home in Ohio. I had a good time and enjoyed myself with good music, food and raw oysters - excellent! So one night as I was walking back to my hotel on Bourbon I saw a huge white cross in the middle of the street. As I got closer I observed several young men handing out pamphlets about the Lord. One such planted himself directly in front of me.
"Are you sure about where you'll end up if you die tonight?" He asked.
"Yes, I am." I replied.
"Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins?"
"Yes, I do."
"Have you accepted Jesus as your own personal Lord and savior?"
"Yes, I have."
There was a long pause while he looked at me in wonder.
"What in the world are you doing here?" He finally asked.
"Having dinner and listening to jazz. And you?"

These were good people and if I'd been in New Orleans for any length of time I'd have attended their Church. But that's that, and that's what I've concluded.

Armand said...

Mad Jack,

I'm not certain what you mean by "all" when you say,

"The Lord loves us ALL equally and unconditionally,.."

He does have a general love for all men, perhaps benevolence is an even better word-description. This is demonstrated in His providential care and great mercy in allowing sinful men to enjoy living in the beauty of His creation. He truly is a good God. But the purpose of this long suffering and goodness in the lives of many, is to serve in vindicating His wrath against them (Rom 1:18-32). His goodness towards the unbeliever is indicative of the endurance with them which are vessels of wrath (Rom 9:22). After all, we must reconcile His "rain on the unjust" with Ps 5:4-6 and Ps 11:5 among other scriptures.

And then we have His particular love - Oh the deep, deep, love of Jesus. Christ's great affection for His bride. The chief shepherd's particular care for, not every man, but His sheep - those for whom He gave His life. The love of the Father for His sons by adoption, through which, they are made joint heirs with Christ. Who can fathom this great love? The scripture is replete with beautiful examples of this particular love for His people, excluding the rest of world.

I know that my wife is appreciative that my particular affections for her are not universal for every woman. And I, am very thankful that the love that the Father has so graciously bestowed upon me is so much deeper than the common, benevolent love, that doesn't redeem or save from His wrath. This love is not equally bestowed upon every individual.

Anonymous said...

WHO AM I to instruct the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe about whom to bless, in preference to another created being who is just as precious?
'Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.'
I have this sticker on my car, and I petition for mercy for us all.
Blessings and peace to each one who reads this post.

Pastor Jeff said...

Anon,

I agree completely with you that we have no right to tell God whom he may (or may not) bless.

You imply, however, that there is only one option: God MUST bless everyone. In so doing, could be it be that it might perhaps be you who are taking God's place to determine whom he may (MUST) bless?

Thankfully, we are not left in the dark or to our own conjectures. Scripture teaches that God does not bless everyone or all their actions indiscriminately. In fact, he even dispenses curses.

Perhaps the most striking example of this comes in the OT book of Deuteronomy. In chapters 27-28 the LORD instructs blessings from Mt. Gerizim and curses from Mt. Ebal. Among the curses in chapter 27:

"Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image..." (v. 15).

"Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherles, the widow" (v. 19).

"Cursed is the one who lieth with any kind of animal" (v. 21).

Thus, for example, idolators,abusers of the weak, and those who practice bestiality would not receive God's blessing but his curse.

If you protest that this is OT, then compare the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 23 where he pronounces various "woes" upon false religonists, denouncing some by declaring, "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell!" (v. 33). I would hardly call this a blessing.

Conclusion: God does not indiscriminately bless everyone without exception. Rather, he blesses or curses according to his sovereign will.

JTR

wendy boden said...

perhaps the idea is best served by saying that the grace of Jesus Christ is available to everyone, not just some.Think about Acts 11: 1 to 18.

Pastor Jeff said...

Wendy,

The account of Cornelius' conversion in Acts 11 shows that Gentiles were converted. All kinds of people (Jews and Gentiles) are among the people of God. This does not mean, however, that saving grace is (as you put it) "available" to all in the same way, unless you believe in universalism. It apparently was not "available" to Esau or Pharaoh in the same way it was to Jacob and Moses (cf. Romans 9:13, 15-17).

JTR

Richard Russeth said...

There is no way to discern from the bumper sticker that the God being petitioned is a Christian God. So your analysis may start from a false premise. I think the refence is to God in the broadest ecumenical sense covering Catholics to Buddhis and all in between.