Will They Know Us By Our Church Signs? I Hope Not.

I regularly drive past a church which sports a sign out front. On said sign is a regular rotation of Christian quips and quotes. You know the kind I’m talking about.

  • Eternity – smoking or non-smoking?
  • Wal-Mart is not the only saving place.
  • Son screen prevents sin burn.

Whenever I see those quotes, I want to smash my head against my steering wheel, which is a bad idea given the fact that I’m also traveling at 45 mph. But I really do get aggravated when I see church signs with cutesy, quipsy, sometimes¬†passive-aggressive, sometimes agressive-agressive quotes.

I feel the same way when I see Christian Facebook memes like this one:

Jesus-Satan-Arm-Wrestle

I’m not opposed to Facebook memes and church signs because of how alarmingly cheesy they are. I’m not opposed to them because I’m a morally and intellectually superior Christian who sips coldbrew coffee from a Mason jar and looks down my nose at memes. This isn’t (I hope) some form of hipster/snobbish soapbox rant.

So why do these things get me so fired up?

Because they distill the glorious, beautiful, incredibly mysterious Christian faith into bite-sized, flavorless platitudes. They turn Jesus into a pun. A divine knock-knock joke. A punchline.

The glories of Heaven and tortures of Hell are reduced to smoking versus non-smoking.

Really? Is that the best we can do? Heaven is the immediate presence of Christ, the total absence of sin, the glorious fellowship of the saints, and the feast of the Lamb. Heaven is the place where dreams come true and nightmares are destroyed in the light of Christ. And we’re going to simply call it “non-smoking”?

Salvation is Christ hanging suspended on a cross, absorbing the crushing wrath of God so that I could be forgiven, adopted, cleansed, and welcomed into God’s presence. It’s God taking what was rightfully mine so I could be rightfully his. It’s simultaneously the worst and greatest moment in history. Are we really going to compare salvation to Wal-Mart?

Jesus is going to return on a white horse, and he is going to throw Satan into the lake of fire. This is not some childish arm wrestling match. This is the King of Kings coming to claim his bride and win the war. This is Aslan destroying the White Witch. This is the realization of all our hopes and dreams. You can’t Facebook meme this kind of stuff.

Our memes and church signs strip away the glory and magesty of the Christian faith. We are part of the greatest, most breathtaking story known to man. The true myth. The glorious mystery. What angels and prophets longed to know.

We believe in a virgin birth and a God-man and a Garden lost. We believe in the Holy Spirit and the communion of the saints.

I’m not going to tell you to take down your church sign or stop posting your memes. But I think we can do better than that. I think we can better represent Christ to the watching world. I think we can better honor Christ as strangers and exiles. I think we can better proclaim the excellencies of him who saved us.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to catch up on my knee-mail to God.

Stephen Altrogge

I'm a husband, dad, writer, & Mixed Martial Arts Salsa Dancing Champion. I created The Blazing Center. I've also written some books which people seem to like.