'Please Lord, Save Me From Your Followers!'

It made me wonder,
What kind of bumper sticker would I inspire?

By Lorelei Nettles

Car with bumper sticker

AS I WAS CARRYING MY LAUNDRY from the Laundromat a couple weeks ago I saw a few bumper stickers on the car next to mine.

I love to read bumper stickers. They are a window into the mind of the owner of the vehicle. Whether they are expressing humor, travel, love, anger or hate, they tell a little story about what that person is like or what he or she has experienced.

One bumper sticker on that car intrigued me: "Please Lord, save me from your followers!" That's quite a statement to have plastered across your bumper. It made me wonder about that person and what happened to bring on these feelings. Did this person not even believe in God or, worse yet, had the person turned away from God?

My first feeling was of sadness and then pity. I wanted to tear the sticker off and replace it with something pleasant and uplifting. I wanted to reach out and touch the person so he or she wouldn't feel such anger. Of course this was ridiculous as it seemed to me that the person would never accept such a message. Yet it seems the person had already been influenced by what others had said or done. Obviously he or she had felt threatened or offended by those whose bumper sticker may have read "Follow the Lord."

Driving People Into Hiding

I REMEMBER WHEN a new church moved into my neighborhood. A few members came by my home to drop off a welcome message card with an invitation to attend their church and a hope that I would be saved. This was a nice gesture. I thought at the time that it was a pleasant way to introduce their church.

Unfortunately it didn't stop there.

A new person or group of people from the church would come to my door every other week saying they were trying to save me and that I should attend their church. While I appreciated how they felt, I began to get irritated at their continuing interruptions into my life and their inability to hear what I told them over and over again: I would not be attending their church because I had my own affiliation and beliefs.

I knew that they felt they were doing good and meant well, but at what cost? My neighbors told me that they hid in their homes and shut off the lights when they saw these churchgoers coming, afraid to deal with more of their questions and their pressure to convert and attend their church.

Is this what the proselytizers wanted? To drive people into hiding in their own homes? Not likely, but they are the people who first came to my mind when I read that bumper sticker. Certainly this is not the only kind of action that can intimidate, but it's one example. Could it be that a similar thing happened to the owner of that car?

Then I asked myself if I was ever guilty of the same kind of offense. Did that bumper sticker apply to me in any way? Was I turning people from God instead of leading them toward him? While I may not knock on doors to try to save those around me, my conduct and words may insult, scare or pressure others. So I wondered what kind of bumper sticker would I inspire--what might it say about me? Would it say something uplifting? Would it make others smile, cringe, hate or weep? It really made me stop and think.

On the Other Hand...

HAVE YOU EVER MET PEOPLE who inspired you to do wonderful things? Are there people you want to emulate because they are full of joy and happiness? Have you come across people who awe you with their generosity and kindness or who are so insightful you want to gobble up all the wisdom they carry within them?

There are people like that in my life. They are the ones I believe would inspire uplifting bumper stickers because of their life-styles, works and words. I long to be like them, to know what they know and to find the joy they carry with them every day. They don't cause me to run inside and shut off my lights. On the contrary I want them around--I welcome them in.

Let me tell you about one of those people. Her name is Loraine. She is an older woman who lived next door to me. We met informally when she offered me the use of her clothesline. That kind gesture started a friendship between us.

Lorraine I would often go to her home just to visit or occasionally for dinner. Whenever I came by I would find her studying her Bible or making up something terrific in her kitchen for one function or another. When she wasn't working at her full-time job, she would be at church, a Bible study, helping some of the other older women from her church (mind you, she was in her 70s herself), driving someone here and there or working on a fund-raiser.

She is an inspiration to me. She is always on the go, always there to lend a helping hand or just to talk. If she can't do it for you, she will recommend someone who can. She never pushes her beliefs on me or anyone.

She just goes about her business and allows others to observe. She was good, and by just being around her I was made better. She didn't have to push anything on me. I wanted it. I wanted to find the joy, love and diligence that just seemed to come naturally to her. She is uplifting without even trying to be.

"Please Lord, save me from your followers"? No one would feel the need to be "saved" from Loraine. In fact, if Loraine had lived next to the owner of that bumper sticker, the message might have eventually come off. Maybe having a few more Loraines around could even wipe out the person's bad experiences so far. (As long as other followers didn't continue to insult, scare and offend.)

So think about it. How do you influence people? What kind of bumper sticker would you inspire?


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