Rainbows used to mean something very different than they do today. It used to be understood as the sign God put in the sky to remind us that even when He’s angry about sin, He’d never again destroy the earth with a global flood. But of course, that’s not what most people associate a rainbow with today.
The guy who puts a rainbow sticker on the back of his Prius is sending a slightly different message: He’s got a co-pilot, and it isn’t God. If you really want the conversation to get going, try putting one of those stickers on your minivan right next to the Jesus fish logo. Talk about mixed messages. Is that guy straight? Is he gay? Do you think he’s a liberal Presbyterian?
How did we get here? Just when was this symbol liquidated of its meaning? When was the sign pointing to God’s promise intentionally co-opted to point to a certain lifestyle choice? Let’s just say that the homosexual movement has been busy over the last couple of decades and that many of these changes have taken place without so much as a peep from the larger Christian community. Rome’s burning; Nero’s fiddling; and Christians are taking a well-deserved nap.
I’m not suggesting that believers don’t appreciate the theological importance of this colorful little symbol, but I think that too many Christians may have adopted the wrong kind of rainbow. They’re yellow with fear, green with envy, blue with depression and red from embarrassment. So, why are believers so off-color these days? Maybe they’re tired of fighting the good fight. Maybe they haven’t seen as much progress as they’d like. Or maybe they think someone else will carry the proverbial water. Sadly, as believers, we’ve gone from echoing Luther’s, “Here I stand, I can do no other” to “Here I sit, I want my mother.” After all, why not put off today what someone else will postpone tomorrow?
It’s this rigorous apathy that’s got me so riled. I’m bothered that Christians can breathe noxious fumes coming from a decaying cultural carcass and think they won’t be affected. I’m bothered that Christians are too afraid to work together because someone might be overshadowed. I’m bothered that Christians wave a white flag of surrender when they should be taking ground. I’m bothered that Christians are more concerned about offending people than they are that people are offending God. And what’s more, I’m bothered that a number of other pastors aren’t bothered.
It’s been said that if you lead the orchestra, you’ll have to turn your back on the crowd. Well, the crowd is getting increasingly hostile. From the rainbow to Tebow, the Christian message is under assault; and these opposition voices don’t grow weary. They don’t grow tired. And when one voice is silenced, it’s replaced with a cacophony of others just ready to get into the mix. All the while, Christians are working together about as well as the remaining contestants on “Survivor.”
So what is it going to take to wake up this sleeping beauty known as the Bride of Christ? Do we not see what is at stake? Don’t we understand that if our symbols can be hijacked, so too can everything else we hold dear? The rainbow is only one example of many where the church has passively sat by and allowed others to redraw lines on the playing field. Linguistic redistricting is a pet peeve of mine, so don’t even get me started about terms like “tolerance,” “justice” and “love.” Those fish will be fried at a later date. But for now, I have a simple proposition: Let’s take the rainbow back.
Yes, let’s take back the rainbow for God. Let the homosexual community find a different religious symbol to commandeer. If they were feeling congenial, perhaps the Muslims would let them borrow their crescent moon. In these desperate economic times, maybe the Wiccans would rent the pentagram to them. I don’t really care. What I want is for the Christian community to wake up, wipe the sleep from their eyes, and realize that they are in a spiritual battle that isn’t going away and has no demilitarized zones. The rainbow is a symbol, but it’s meaning points to the very character of God. So Christians …use this God-given symbol for His glory. Using it won’t make you a homosexual. It won’t make you a New Ager. It won’t make leprechauns real. But it might allow you to get into conversations with people who need to meet the very One Who gave us His promise in the first place.
Is it time for another Telemachus, the monk who tried to stop the gladiator fights taking place in Rome? In the process, Telemachus was stoned to death on Jan. 1, A.D. 404. However, from that day on, there was never another gladiator fight in Rome.
Martin Luther King stood up to make the issue black and white. We as Christians have watered down the truth and are trying to make it purple and pink.
Is it time for us to change history? Let’s take back the rainbow!