Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Banner, Jesus!

After leaving Babies R Us last Sunday, I stopped and saw this sign:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="604" caption="Banner, Jesus!"]Banner, Jesus![/caption]

I thought to myself, "Sign ministry. Not terribly effective."  I had seen this person's handiwork before. It was along the same stretch of road to the shopping center where Target, the movie theater and Toys R Us are located. I remembered what sign I had seen in this chicken scratch before! A mutilated "No on Prop 8" sign that said "GOD'S WRATH!" over it. Clearly that sign is what got Prop 8 Passed here in California. It also turned many hearts toward God and made them put down whatever political signs they were holding. Using the word wrath does that for people.

I'm not saying that God doesn't get his wrath on, or that there isn't a place for fire and brimstone. I'm all for it. It's there, it's in the Bible. But it's only through our personal interactions with people and love for them that we can share truth with them. Signs just don't cut it. I have a feeling that the person who makes these signs is holed up in their house waiting for the rapture and have a heavy investment in tempera paint and card stock. They enjoy watching other people get in trouble and they don't put signs out to love people, they put signs out in a way to condemn them.

I was reading John 8 today and read a very familiar story, when the Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. They mention Mosaic law and try to trap (I have a new favorite verse "They were using this question as a trap..." (v.6) I wrote above it in my Bible: IT'S A TRAP!) Him into either having her stoned (as prescribed in Mosaic law) or letting her go and therefore breaking the law. Jesus looks at them (I imagine a very Jim Halpert into the camera face) and bends down and starts writing in the sand. They demand an answer of him. He stands up and says "If any one of you is without sin let him be the first to throw a stone at her." (v.7b) You know at this point they're all thinking "Oh crud. Thats' not me." Maybe some of them stumble for an answer. Maybe some of them whistle and stare at the sky. Then some of them give up and leave.

Jesus is left standing there alone with the woman and Jesus asks her where they all went.

"Who has condemned you?"

She says, "No one."

He tells her, "Then neither do I condemn you, Go now and leave your life of sin."

In my studying of this passage, I learned that these Pharisees would have had to have known shewas in the act of committing adultery and would have found her half naked and drug her to Jesus. These dudes were committing sin themselves by spying or getting someone to spy on a naked chick!  They may have paid someone off to tell on her, they may have known about her previous sin and knew she'd sin again, one way or another they were excited to get someone else in trouble to serve their own purpose. Not just in trouble, but STONED TO DEATH. They were willing to have someone killed to make a point.

Darby puts it this way:
It comforts and quiets the depraved heart of man if he can only find a person worse than himself: he thinks the greater sin of another excuses himself; and while accusing and vehemently blaming another, he forgets his own evil. He thus rejoices in iniquity.

I return now to my crazy little sign maker in Corona. Do you think he/she really wants for others to know Christ? I have a feeling their motive is simply to play judge by putting up signs and hoping that someone feels crappy about their life. Wouldn't that make you feel better to make someone's sin worse than your own? The sign maker is not at all unlike the Pharisees. More willing to hurt than to heal. The sign maker of Corona isn't like Jesus at all. Jesus was a man of personal ministry, out in the street rather than putting up signs in the street. Jesus wasn't condemning. He does call her out on her sin, but he doesn't condemn her. You know what he does instead? He dies on the cross for her sins. In all the times I've heard this particular story, I seemed to have missed that Jesus' own death was the reason He did not condemn her. Do you get it? He forgave her! He knew that the old laws were in the past because He was going to be the New Covenant through his death, burial and resurrection. That my friends, is some exciting news. Good news that belongs on our hearts, and our mouths at all times so that we can tell others for their benefit, not ours.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Christ and the Adulteress, Valentin de Boulogne French, 1620s Oil on canvas "]Christ and the Adulteress, Valentin de Boulogne  French, 1620s  Oil on canvas [/caption]


Shelly Jones said...

Good post! We have a group in the city I live that lines Main Ave every Friday (well every Friday when the weather permits or there's not a sale on tie-dye at one of the local stores) to "protest for peace". I think the concept is pretty hilarious, not that I don't take them seriously. I'm all for peace. My Friday, for instance, would be more peaceful if there were less sign-holders standing on the corner yelling at cars to honk for peace. In any case, I don't think it matters WHAT they're protesting for. There are probably several more effective ways to be an agent for change. As John Mayer put it:

Is there anyone who
Ever remembers changing their mind from
The paint on a sign?
Is there anyone who really recalls
Ever breaking rank at all
For something someone yelled real loud one time?

We have the most powerful thing in the universe to advocate for - real, unwavering, unconditional love! But in order to help others to know His love, we have to be examples of it. As long as we're just fighting for our belief in God (or Jesus or religion or whatever), we're not going to change any hearts or minds. Ever. And what a disappointment that would be...

Nichole said...

I think you should print this, put it in a ziploc bag, and staple the bag to the signs that you see. :)