church signs typically have one of two affects on me. they either make me laugh – out loud – or they make me cringe, wanting to get to the sign and strip it of its message, which too often is condemning or judgmental. frankly, i hope THRESHOLD never has one of those change-the-message signs. they’re just plain tacky.
at the same time, i love words. i love using words, studying words, sometimes thinking of just the right words to convey what needs to be said. so i sometimes also find myself wondering, if we DID have a church sign… hmmmmm…..
i’ve been reading the gospel according to luke recently, trying once more to get a better understanding of this man whose name i bear, who i aim to follow most closely. as i read through luke’s rendition of Jesus, vis-a-vis the whole church sign idea, i find myself contemplating some words. they might not land on a church sign, but i think they convey what Jesus was about…
one of the first things Jesus does in his public ministry is to go to his home church to preach. it doesn’t go real well. in fact, by the time he says ‘amen,’ the congregation is ready to throw him over a cliff. whoa. can’t say i’ve ever had THAT kind of reaction (if you ever have felt that way, thanks for keeping it to yourself. really.). following that, he begins aggravating the religious leaders by seemingly violating their rules, to the point that by the early verses of chapter 6, they are already wondering how to get rid of him.
didn’t Jesus realize how risky these things were? i think he did. in fact, i’m certain of it. Jesus knew – as should we – that living according to the directives of God’s kingdom is risky. it won’t be well-received by some people. but Jesus, and his followers, do it anyway.
another thing i noticed in the opening chapters of Jesus’ ministry is that he seemed to have one focus – to restore people. according to the dictionary, restore can mean to bring back to an original condition, or to bring to a state of health, soundness or vigor. for some, it was physical healing – restoring one’s body to a healthy state. for others, it was psychological or psychiatric – driving out the demons that plagued them. for still others, it was spiritual – forgiving sins as only God can do.
i love this about Jesus, and am passionate about being a church of people who seeks to do the same. the recent challenge to be out there blessing people is all about this, all about saying or doing things that make people more whole. things that bring restoration. this is the goal of both Jesus and his followers.
when someone is on a mission, and they are accomplishing that mission, they keep on doing the same thing, over and over. Jesus went from place to place, healing people. period. sure he taught things along the way, but most often, those teaching were either about restoration, or in reaction to those who didn’t like what he was doing. no matter. he repeated, over and over, words and acts of restoration. even as he hung dying on the cross – and this is only in luke’s story – Jesus told the thief beside him that he would be in paradise by the end of the day. that is restoration in the most complete way.
if i had a church sign, i think that’s what i would put on it.