We saw that on a highway somewhere when we were traveling, and under it the address of the local church. I laughed then, but maybe it wasn’t a bad idea. People are still looking for a sign, just as they were in Jesus’ day.
I have heard a lot of talk about roadside signs in my lifetime, many of them negative, and I understand the concern. The church is an undenominational entity and those signs, if they are not carefully worded, can teach things we are trying not to teach. But can I say this one thing about them? Through the years, many people have shown up at various church doors where I worshipped because of the sign. They remembered it from childhood. Or maybe they remembered a neighbor who acted differently than their other neighbors, who helped their family when no one else did. They remembered other neighbors, people who faced their own tragedy and came through it with a smile and faith intact. Maybe they remembered the times that neighbor invited them to church and now they are in the middle of a crisis and they see a sign in front of a building that looks awfully familiar, one like the sign where their neighbor faithfully attended year after year no matter what was happening in their lives or in the world.
That is certainly one benefit of those signs that people, including me, sometimes wish weren’t there any more, or were worded much differently. But maybe this is what we need to concentrate on: that sign wouldn’t have done a thing in the cases I mentioned if the remembered people hadn’t been the kind of people they were.
Our lives are supposed to be the sign. In a world where “Christian” can mean anything and everything, you should still be able to tell a genuine one by how he acts. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven, Matt 5:16. If you really want people to be interested in your faith, then show them a faith worth being interested in.
A lot of people in Jesus’ day wanted the other kind of sign. What did Jesus have to say about that? Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah, Matt 12:38,39. Jesus knew that a miraculous sign would do no good. He said as much in the parable where the rich man desired Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead as a sign to his brothers, but was told, “If they will not hear the Law and the prophets, they won’t hear if someone comes back from the dead.” The sign on Mt Carmel ultimately did no good either. The next morning Jezebel was still in power, able to threaten Elijah and send him running.
No, the signs that really matter are the ones we act out in front of our friends. Those are the signs that spark their interest and lead them to ask questions, signs that will eventually start them reading the Word of God and finding their way to Him. Miracles didn’t work for Jesus, and he steadfastly refused to send a sign at their request. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, John 12:37. What worked were his words and the life he lived, and that’s what works today.
You are the sign people are looking for. Word it carefully.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God, Phil 1:27,28.