Most church signs drive me crazy. They either make bad puns out of faith (Seven days without prayer makes one weak) or they cause the unchurched to pick up speed to get away as quickly as possible (Exposure to the Son will keep you from burning). Or they heap a steaming dose of unbiblical guilt on an unfortunate passerby. (Children brought up in church are rarely brought up in court) Sometimes they are just stupid. (Super Bowl let you down? Let Jesus lead you to a perfect season) Generally the problem is they contain bad theology. Like this one. I changed the church name to better reflect their theology.
(Note: Not a real sign. This was re-created at www.churchsigngenerator.com. You can have some fun at that site.)
When I was a younger man I loved a song by the one-hit wonder Five Man Electrical Band. The song was called "Signs" and it told about some warnings that dared to tell us what to do.
Sign Sign everywhere a sign
Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign
I remember the opening part of the song quite well.
And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply
So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why
He said you look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you'll do
So I took off my hat I said imagine that, huh, me working for you
What struck me most is that the official Five Man Electrical Band website actually has that last word spelled "woah". Hearing that song recently on the old iPod made me think again about the mixed blessing of church signs. To be fair, some are clever and thought provoking. Most, sadly, are embarrassing or even harmful.
Will your eternal reservations be smoking or non-smoking? - Threats of damnation seem to be a church sign favorite like this cheery little thought. And Universalists will point out that all sections are non-smoking.
Life is all fun and games until you die and go to hell! - Really makes you want to join that happy little group, doesn't it? All I can say is…woah!
I have seen some signs that were a bit more graceful and thoughtful. I have to admit that I kind of liked these.God so loved the world that He did not send a committee. (Amen!)
The final church sign might be a bit too obtuse for the casual passerby but it does contain the message of grace.
God grades on the Cross, not the curve.
Paul said it like this to the Ephesians. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!)
Our nature is to grade on the curve. If I know more doctrine than you then I am more righteous. If I do more right things then I am more righteous. If I do more church stuff than you then I am more righteous. All good except for one small problem. It is heresy. Nothing I can do can me righteous apart from Christ.
Jesus was not talking about church signs when He said "you know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times". The signs of the times indicate to me that I need to believe that God does grade on the Cross. There is nothing I can do to earn a better grade or more favor with Him. I am not a fan of signs. I am a big fan of being a messenger of grace.