We’ve all seen them. Billboards on the side of the highway with messages from God. Sometimes they are funny, but most of the time they just make me mad. Of all the messages someone could use that sign for some misguided fundamentalist paid thousands of dollars to say something about taking the Lord’s name in vain or to tell people they are going to hell.
They had one shot to communicate something about the love of God and they chose to say “What part of ‘Thou shalt not’ didn’t you understand…”
I have a similar reaction, although more visceral, when I see people holding signs on street corners with messages like “Repent or Perish” or “Turn to Jesus or Burn in Hell.”
I refer to this kind of tactic as “Drive-by Christianity.” It’s equivalent to someone driving by a dying person on the side of the road and yelling “Jesus Saves” out the window as they speed away. I seem to remember a story about a Samaritan that warned against such things.
As Christians we are instructed in the Bible to tell others about the good news of Jesus Christ; that God’s love is greater than our sins and that we can have relationship with God through prayer and the person of Jesus Christ.
So, Christians are supposed to tell people about Jesus. But, that is not all. No, that is not all.
Christians are also supposed to love people. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 13 for more about the daunting commission that is love.
Loving people can be a scary proposition. After all, they might have problems. They might ask hard questions. They might not accept a canned Bible verse as truth. They might require a little more effort than a poorly constructed sign warning them of their impending, fiery death.
Love can be inconvenient. It takes time and effort. Love requires that we listen more than we speak. Sometimes love requires that we make sacrifices.
Jesus went out where the people were and talked with them. He labored for the cause. He sacrificed for the good of others. He didn’t say, “Oh look, sinners! Quick, where’s my sign?” That would have been the quickest and, more than likely, the safest way to get the message out. But, Jesus didn’t phone it in and neither should we.
Love can be exhausting. It’s a lot easier for a person to stand at a distance waving a banner with righteous indignation than to dig in and get their hands dirty loving people. It’s like they’ve been warned not to get too close to the sinners or they might get bit.
Signs are a great way to detach the person holding it from the people reading it. Signs say, “I don’t have time for a real conversation where I might have to listen. It’s more important that you listen to the message I have for you because I have it all figured out.”
Not very appealing, is it?
Anyone can hold up a sign. Signs are cheap. Signs are lazy. And in many cases I think they hurt the cause of Christ.
“Drive-by Christianity” tends to forget that Christ’s legacy was about love not hate; forgiveness, not sin; mercy, not punishment.
Let’s not let drive-by evangelists speak for the rest of us. Let’s get our hands dirty loving people.
Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words.
***Please like and share this post to help others see it. Follow me on Twitter @cynthiaaenglish and Facebook at www.facebook.com/cynthiaaenglishwriter. Subscribe to my blog by clicking on the link on the top right if you are on a PC or scroll to the bottom if you are on a mobile device. No spam, but you will be alerted when I post something new. Feel free to leave comments below.