Does Jesus Really Love Me?
by: Paul W Sharkey
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I have relatively recently moved back into the Bible-Belt of the U.S. from living on the heathen west coast. The Pacific coastal state from which I moved seemed to think people need two license plates on their cars: one on the rear and another on the front. No such waste here, by God. Instead, everyone can evidently express or proclaim themselves in any way they like where a State’s front license plate would otherwise go. Here in the Bible Belt, that frequently means saying something about God, or Sin, or Hell, or Jesus.
A particularly popular message on such front license plates here is: “Jesus Loves You” actually just “JESUS” in VERY BIG letters with “Loves you” in very small ones underneath. Now this might be a nice thing to read if I were a young Latina with a boyfriend named Jesus but if I am, as I am, an aging heathen gentleman encountering such a message in the rural south, it might not.
While visiting our local Wal-Mart recently I noticed a car coming directly toward me with just such a message emblazoned on just such a plate. The driver flashed me a decidedly disapproving look when I pulled into a parking space she apparently had had her eye on, though there was another one only a few spaces away. Had I known she really wanted that particular space, I would have been happy to let her have it. I could use the extra exercise anyway. However, what really struck me was the incongruity of her license-plate message and what at least seemed to be her attitude toward me. Or ... maybe there really wasn’t any incongruity?
Does Jesus really love me? And whether he does or not, should I really care? Evidently the driver of the other car didn’t. Or maybe she did. Maybe by thinking that Jesus loves me, she didn’t have to.
Now I don’t pretend to be a Christian though lots of people around here do but it seems to me that at least part of what Jesus [the one represented by the Gospels, not the one from Latin America] was telling his follows is that they should love others as he had loved them, not that they could “blow them off” confident and comfortable in the belief that “Jesus loves them” even if they don’t.
I also remember that years and years (and years) ago, I had the good fortune to visit a church, also in the rural south, that had a sign over the alter which read: “Your love of God is no greater than that you have for the person you love least!” Now there’s a message for a front license plate! But it's too long and the letters would be too small to read without causing an accident. Maybe just: “I love you too!” ?