Let me first say that I do have an aversion to trivializing the gospel message. I have a real problem with those who want to reduce the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ to "bumper sticker" theology. Stickers placed on auto bumpers which proclaim such things as "God Is My Co-pilot" or "My Boss Is a Jewish Carpenter," in my view, cheapen the greatest message the world has ever known.
Signs placed in front of church buildings are often guilty of the same type of offense. Preachers, even some among our own brethren, come up with some simplistic, catchy phrases that they believe will captivate passers-by into looking at their sign. We have a church building up the road from ours whose preacher makes this a common practice. Since our building and sign are on a very heavily traveled road, some wondered, when we erected a new sign that had a message board, if we might possibly do the same thing. I cannot speak for what others may do in the future but this preacher is not going to do it. The only message of that type I thought of putting on the sign, after seeing a number of the "cutesy" phrases on the sign up the road, was "No catchy phrases...Only TRUTH spoken here." But discretion and hopefully a little wisdom caused me to calm down and not do it. I just believe that the gospel is too serious a matter to be handled so lightly.
So you can see I readily admit my prejudice. Someone might ask, "Do you think such a practice is sinful?" I would not go so far as to say that. But, last week, I did encounter something on a church's sign that I did think was sinful -- and sad. For the message I read was not only in bad taste but also deceitful
As I was traveling along in my car, I was gawking around as usual. It was a pleasant day to be out and about. Quite often I do look at the signs in front of church buildings to see what "dumb" thought someone has placed there. I have found there is not too much originality in messages placed on church signs. You pretty much see the same ones recycled again and again.
But this day I saw one I had not seen before. It read, "Sign broken -- come inside for message!" I realized the intent of the one who placed the message there. It was his way of trying to get people to attend their services, I guess thinking that such a humorous message might do it.
After I had finished my business on that side of town, I went back the same street I had been on before. By this time the sun had set and it was growing dark. As I neared that church building and their sign, I deliberately slowed. Sure enough, the message was the same on this side of the sign. Its lights were glowing brightly so I could easily read it. What I had wondered earlier was now confirmed.
When I first saw that message, I wondered, "Is the sign really broken?" I thought, "I doubt it." My suspicions were confirmed. There was nothing wrong with the sign. Someone just thought it was a cute way to arrest attention. But it was a lie.
Some readers might be thinking this is kind of a trivial thing to get upset about, but is it? If those who claim to be righteous will so casually lie on their sign, what other lies will they tell? Is the truth so unimportant to them that they don't even care whether they misrepresent something or not? Maybe they thought that the good results such a message may generate in getting people to attend their services would be worth misrepresenting the condition of their sign. You know, the idea that "the end justifies the means." Yet, the apostle Paul wrote that we are not to do evil that good may come (Rom. 3:8).
Our attitude toward truth must be that which causes us to recognize its great value and to cling to it with all our heart (Prov. 23:23). Without truth, religion is worthless. Jesus said we must know the truth for it is the truth that makes us free (John 8:32).
In closing, let me state two things. One, I predict that you will see that same message on a church sign somewhere else if you have not seen it already. Secondly, I promise to never lie to promote Jesus Christ or His gospel -- on a sign, in a class, in the pulpit, or wherever.
Maybe, though, I ought to rethink my decision not to display the message "Only TRUTH spoken here."