I was driving along a back road and saw one of those changeable signs for a church. You know, the ones with clever sayings on them. Little quips to make you smile, or to make you think, or both.
I saw one that I’ve seen before, but this time it struck me differently. It said –
“Sign broken. Message inside.”
It seemed clever when I first saw this many years ago. You can’t get the whole story from reading the headline. They want to tell you the whole story, not just a bit of it.
Now I think it is terrible.
What they are saying is that you have to come inside. What they are saying is that the only way they will share the message with you is for you to stop going where you are going, park, get out, and come in.
But wait. It isn’t just any time they will tell you. It is only certain times. When it is convenient for them. Most likely Sunday morning. Maybe Sunday evening and Wednesday evening too. Maybe. And you won’t get it all in one meeting. You’ll have to come back. A lot.
This sign is saying they will only share the message with you on their turf and on their terms.
To give up a chance to let them know that they are loved by God by insisting that they do things your way is to miss the point of the message.
There are plenty of people who will never go inside a church. There are plenty of people who used to go and will never go again. Both don’t go because of this very attitude.
Jesus came where people were. He didn’t ask them to come to him. Our calling as Christians in this world is to meet people where, and how, they are, not where we want them to be, or how we want them to be.
The message is simple, and it can be said on a sign. It doesn’t require a lot of time. It doesn’t require that someone stop and get out of their car. It doesn’t require that they come in. It doesn’t require that be a member of the church.
It can be something like this –
You are loved.
Be love in the world.
The message is more important than membership. It is essential that Christians understand that it is their responsibility to spread the message of love by being loving. To be loving is to show kindness to people where and as they are, and not to insist that they do things where and as you are.
If we as Christians are not loving in how we share the message of love, then how is anyone going to listen to it?