As my husband drove me to work yesterday, he commented on a sign that said "QUICK DIVORCE." Those two words were followed by a telephone number. That was all the giant billboard said. Tim commented "you see signs like that for negative things all the time, but you never see signs by Christians for a quick fix."
I admit I had to ponder on it for a moment because I was taken aback by his comment. First he is not a believer, or is backsliding for over a decade - so that he would admit that God is the solution was unexpected. Second it was really early in the morning for such an in depth thought!
After thinking about it, and commenting openly about my surprise, I was able to respond. I told him that too often we spend years getting ourselves into a big mess. Then we want to turn to God for a quick fix. Often we get our solution only to replace the problem with one of a similar nature, because we didn't really learn anything. Look at the people who replace one addiction for another, or who file bankruptcy only to get into the same mess a few years down the road.
God wants us to come to Him and spend time with Him, not just run through the "prayer drive-thru" for a quick fix. God desires relationship with us. When we get a quick solution, this is not out of relationship, but from God's mercy and grace. As our associate pastor, Pastor Curtis Holt says, "you don't get all the blessing and promises without relationship and true repentance." I pointed out that God has the answer but usually it is in the process that we go through where most lessons are learned and true growth occurs.
As I was journaling about this last night, I started thinking about the billboard again and Tim's comment. I thought about some of the "Christian" billboards I have seen. The eye-catching, attention-getting messages from God. I thought about the catchy-slogan "Got God?" Well in all honesty, there are a lot of people out there that have no idea how to get God. So what if the message is read and the answer is "no." Where is the help in getting God? The sign may raise a problem, but offers no solution. Even the divorce billboard offered a number to meet the need.
There are also billboards that offer church location and times. Some are mere advertising campaigns that are eye catching, but nothing more than another costly billboard advertising. Some billboards have pictures that present unrealistic pictures of what an unbeliever is going to see when they walk in the door of most churches. They might be met by a greeter and receive direction of where to go, but is what is portrayed in those pictures real - or merely "false advertising."
What would Jesus have done? Would He have had a billboard? Honestly I don't think He would have. Everywhere I read - people came to Him. People sought Him out because they knew He had the answer. He was out and about doing Our Father's business and people recognized there was something different about Him. He didn't have a town crier going before him, people gathered on their own. He didn't advertise His presence, He just did what He was called to do.
What if the church billboards didn't advertise the church - but the solution? Simple messages like "Marriage Problems? Followed by the church's number. Or "Hurting" Followed by the church's number. "Stressed?" Followed by the church's number. "Problem with Addictions?" Followed by the church's number.
What if that phone was manned twenty-four seven - maybe forwarded to various members phones so that one person or a few people alone were not carrying that burden. The reality is, like my husband pointed out, the church has the solution to EVERY problem faced. The real question is "Will we step up and offer the solution?"