Forgive or else!

I drive by a billboard everyday that reads:

If you do not forgive others, God will not forgive you- Matthew 6:15

Does this strike anyone else as a gun-to-the-head kind of scenario? And is it even true? Though I am hardly an expert, I have always been under the impression that if a Christian asks  God for forgiveness, it shall be granted.

No strings attached.

Apparently not, at least according to this billboard.

What I find more surprising is the thought that this billboard, with its bullying tactics, might be well received by anyone, Christian or otherwise. If I was required to spend my church’s advertising budget on enormous billboards, positioned high above fast food restaurants in some ridiculous attempt to pass on the word of God onto people driving by at 35 miles per hour, I don’t think I would’ve chosen Matthew 6:15 as my slogan.

Perhaps instead a welcoming message of encouragement or inclusion. Words of hope and love.

These exist in the Bible. Right? Certainly not in Leviticus, the bigots favorite book of the Bible, but there must be a few words somewhere in the Bible that are capable of raising a person’s spirits.

I’m being facetious. Though I am not religious, I’ve actually read the Bible from cover to cover three times. I know that those passages exist, and depending on the chapter and verse, they exist in abundance.

Which leads me back to my original question:

Who the hell thought Matthew 6:15 was the right verse to paint across a billboard?  Every day that I drive by it, I become more and more angry at its finger wagging, ten-year-old playground tone.