While driving to Greenville, OH on Friday, I noticed a church sign.
The sign served its given purpose as it did get my attention.
The sign also troubled me.
The message of the sign: “Floods? Earthquakes? I told you so! Signed, God.”
Wow! What a loving message!
This message certainly did not make me want to learn more about that particular church. The sign left me with a bad feeling.
Then I began to wonder…was the intent of the sign to attract people to Christ or to offend people?
There’s a big difference between the two.
If the intent was to attract people to Christ, they may want to go back to the drawing board. If the intent was to offend people… job well done!
There are folks out there who desire to offend people because…”after all, the Gospel of Christ is offensive.” These are the same folks who like to “scare the hell out of people”. A sign like this basically makes me think that these are folks who believe the “world is going to hell in a hand-basket”. And, rather than interacting with that world…rather than trying to help change that world…they simply desire to point and laugh at that world. And so, you find churches that try to offend and scare people straight…”You are a horrible sinner…you will burn in hell…unless you change and come to Jesus…and our church.”
I believe the desire to offend and scare people into a relationship with Christ totally misses the point of the Gospel.
The message of Christ is all about love, grace, mercy. As Christians, we’re called to somehow embody these things…love, grace, mercy, patience, etc.
So, when we find ourselves known for church signs that give God credit for tragic events that claim thousands and thousands of lives around the world, I think we’ve missed the point.
On our way home from Ohio, I saw another church sign. It didn’t make me made. In fact, I found myself somewhat relieved.
The sign simply said, “God is not mad at you.”
I like that message!
“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:12-13)
And, so I find myself needing to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience for the folks at that church. Sometimes, it’s easier to be loving, peaceful, patient, kind, and gentle with folks outside than church than inside it.
So, as I’ve said before, if you feel led to have a church sign with a message on it…try to focus on love!