I saw a billboard on the way to Nashville and then again coming home. (It was double-sided) I couldn’t take a picture at
70 80 mi. an hour, so I recreated it. Which was easy since it was black and white…no color…absolute, with no room for misinterpretation.
Both times it made me cringe and physically sink down in my seat. I felt defensive and embarrassed when I read it.
This post is really going to rub some of you the wrong way. Feel free to stop reading now.
I am returning from a trip where God was present. He showed up. His spirit was alive and well. Jesus was glorified and the worship was sacred. I’ve not seen this kind of community, maybe ever. Interestingly enough, not one time did I feel defensive or shameful…frightened or remorseful…regretful or resentful…you feelin’ me?
Who knew a billboard could get me this riled up? Or maybe I am just that tired of so-called “Christians” belittling others under the guise of sharing Jesus.
I’m not asking you to condone behavior. I’m not asking you to pretend. I am however asking my Jesus lovin’, God-fearing, friends to avoid making this way of life so dang unattractive.
There are hotties who love Jesus. There are married couples enjoying sex more than once a week, who love Jesus. There are those who watch Modern Family and still love Jesus. Why are we not speaking out? Why is the voice of the Pharisee so much louder than the voice of the Jesus follower?
Stop assuming that people who are living a life that you consider to be less than “good” will be attracted to scare tactics. Shame is not attractive. Fear is not attractive. Guilt is not attractive to anyone…not knowingly.
So, stop it. Stop. Stop using the name of Jesus as a way to be passive aggressive. Just…stop.
Jesus did not attract people by condemning them. He did not come to accuse, he came to save. And as followers of Christ I can’t help but know that we are to do the same.
There need not be accusations in our words and our actions, in our face, in our…anything! Denunciation does not draw anyone, if anything it pushes them further away.
So if you are threatening people with hell to bring them to their Savior, how about enticing them with heaven? How about sharing your personal story of freedom.
How about sitting down and listening to their story. Relate, empathize, be compassionate. Be attractive in a way that has nothing to do with outward appearance.
I believe in heaven and hell. The thought of anyone spending an eternity suffering is unimaginable. This is not about that. That’s an entire post in itself. That said, Tell me how many people you think see or hear a passive aggressive message like, “Jesus is Lord and you know it!” decide that they want our way of life?
There is no life in judgment. There is no life in statements that make people feel small, guilty or shamed.
I don’t want to be the traveling judge and jury. I want to be one who brings light, gives hope and shows purpose everywhere I go. Whether it be the grocery store, doctor’s office, work…everywhere I go. Though I fail often, it’s worth working towards.
What’s your first thought when reading the message on this billboard?
This billboard only bothers me when I reflect that it reflects my own frustrations in dealing with miltant atheists. You just wanna shake em, as my wife would say. But this attitude is reserved by Jesus for religious (hateful self-trusting) types and deceivers WITHIN the fellowship of believers, not outsiders. Maybe some pastels and flowers would have helped. And replace “and you know it” with “am i right? Huh? Cone on now…”
I know you don’t need to post my response but I really wanted to respond to your blog. My reaction to the billboard (which I pass often on I-75) is “WAKE UP WORLD”. There are millions of people who deny or dismiss GOD, and sadly many of them will die without a personal relationship with him. I believe most (if not all) people ‘know’ deep down that GOD is real, and that’s all the sign is trying to ignite. I’m not offended by the sign. I hope it impacts and transforms one non-believer and they tell two friends, and so on….
Ever heard of Mark Cahill? He’s in Atlanta and is desperate to reach the lost. He gets in people’s faces, questions their beliefs, and doesn’t wait to ‘build a relationship with them’ before telling them about Jesus. I don’t know what he thinks about the billboard, but it’s because of his conviction and boldness that makes me think the billboard is precisely what we need. Check him out at http://www.markcahill.org.
I welcome honest feedback. I resist posting only comments when others agree with me. You bring up a valid point. At the same time, you are using different verbiage. You are using “God” to reference a higher power. In my opinion, this billboard is passive aggressive.
Here’s the deal, Darlin’, in the world of recovery from addiction, many of us come from a place of condemnation. Many of us come from a background where we were greatly hurt by organized religion, the church and/or Christians.
I have known about God, been taught the scriptures, learned about Jesus and attended church my entire life (including in my mother’s womb) and I can honestly say that I did not seek out a personal relationship with my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, until I was 26 years old. I am incredibly grateful that my parents exposed me to church and God from an early age, but I had no idea nor was I able to grasp a true understanding of the love of my Savior without going outside of that bubble.
I never sought “Jesus” so to speak. I saw God as a bully with a stick who was waiting for me to screw up so he could bring his wrath upon me.
I now know that I serve a God who operates from a place of both grace and truth. He is just and also loving. There are consequences to my actions, but he isn’t sitting in the sky waiting to unleash his vengeance.
I am fairly certain that the person who erected this billboard didn’t have the “intention” of turning people away from Christ. When I write, I don’t have the “intention” of irritating/offending/upsetting anyone. I am simply writing what I believe to be true. It resonates with some and not with others and therefore inevitably rubs someone the wrong way.
I would interpret this sign completely differently did it just say “JESUS IS LORD” without the added “and you know it!” at the bottom in much smaller type. To me, they should have just added, “you dirty sinner.”
Not everyone will read it that way. And it may sound somewhat dramatic to you, but that’s where my mind goes when reading things like this.
I don’t write this response in hopes for a debate. I didn’t want to let your comment go without feedback.
Please know, I’m not trying to sway you to believe exactly what I believe. I respect your faith journey as your own just as mine is my own.
I appreciate your willingness to comment in an honest and constructive way.
I have heard of Mark Cahill. Again, there are those who will respond to him and others who will run quickly away.
Frances Chan is one whom I love and listen to often. He doesn’t shy away from difficult truth. There’s just a difference and it’s all in the way it’s communicated. Is it from a place of love or condemnation? Who’s to say?
This blog is only a personal expression and interpretation of my every day.
Thanks for stopping by.
I don’t know you at all, but I’ve also seen and reacted to this same billboard in a very similar manner. I am a pastor. I at first was embarrassed, but I think it is because I supposed that behind this billboard was the same judgmental feeling that is expressed by all these type of billboards and the church communities that put them up. However, the more I have throughout about it, I think there is something more – possibly unintended here. Yes, I believe and profess “Jesus is Lord”. And I know that regardless of what I do or do not do, that fact remains unchanged. So when I see this sign, day in and day out – (because I pass it on the way to and from the church) I am now left wondering…do they (the people who put this sign up) know it? If they did, would the sign be there at all? Would it need to be? Which then leads me to think about my own call. Am I reaching out to those people to love them with the love of Christ? Are my actions and reactions witnessing to God’s grace, love and mercy? This has caused me to have a resolve to remember that all people are not at the same level of spiritual maturity, nor are they at the same level of cognitive ability. Jesus is Lord of those people too. May God bless you.
Thank you for taking the time to comment, Katie.
Please know that while writing this I was not trying to negate anyone’s belief in Jesus. This struck a nerve in me…as a recovering alcoholic, addict, egotistical, hopeless mess. I grew up in church learning about God and yet it took 26 years for me to begin a journey of understanding of who God is and that He isn’t out to get me. This message makes me defensive and leaves me wanting to withdraw. I am not trying to guess what the motives of the one responsible for this message is. I am simply expressing and sharing my experience, strength and hope while trying to have a sense of humor about it all. I’ll be honest, I’m grateful I don’t pass it to and from work everyday. Thanks again for reading and sharing your thoughts.
I agree wholeheartedly! I’ve seen those billboards or the marquis outside of churches. As a Christian, its embarrassing! I want to scream… Please stop using Jesus’ name in your ridiculous statements. You are running it for the rest of us.
It’s a shock value they are trying to create. Like someone driving by would say… You know what, I’m going to try that church out. They sound like people I would be interested in doing life with.
I want someone meeting me for the first time not to find out I’m a Christian until they get to know me better. Then it will be genuine and they will know it’s part of my character. The person who starts quoting scripture right off the bat scares me, too. It’s awkward.
Ok, I think I’m done. 🙂 Thanks for the post!
I love it, Debbie!
You don’t have to be done 🙂 Come on back if you think of something else.
Thanks for reading and participating in the discussion!
My first thought was “I am a Christian and this makes me feel like crap”.
We can not save anyone; but we can extend love to them in hopes of drawing them to God. Shame is an easy tool to use and we are lazy if we use it and we boarder on being evil as well.
I think many times the most difficult thing to grasp is that we can’t save anyone. So true!
Thanks for reading and commenting, Mark.
Love this! I had to get away from church folks and all their religious hatred for 7 years! Once I returned to Christ, I had to unlearn practically everything I had been taught growing up just to learn how to walk according to Christ – a walk of love. A critical, condemning, shaming, guilting spirit is never of God no matter how many scriptures one quotes or how many times they say the name of Jesus! May we all as the collective body of Christ learn to speak truth in love with a heart for real transformation as only Holy Spirit can usher instead of truth in hatred looking to insult those we view as “less than.” Great blog!
I can SO relate to this!
I too had to relearn everything! Nothing will humble you like sitting in the rooms of AA realizing that you have no idea who a “God of my understanding” even is. It’s been an incredible journey!
If someone asked me to sum up, in one sentence, how to respond to those around me I too would say, “Truth and Love.” I love that you pointed this out.
Blessings to you, friend!
Well stated Joy! My first thought was…and that is supposed to mean what? The scriptures teach us that: “…no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:3). Thank you for stating what should be obvious for every Believer! We must learn, love is the way!
Exactly. It’s difficult to watch people have religion shoved down their throats. Love is, most definitely, the way.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
You’re so welcome! Religion is one thing but RELATIONSHIP is altogether different…which is what our Lord desires to have with us! Continue to shine your light, we need it!
“Jesus did not attract people by condemning them. He did not come to accuse, he came to save.”
Your statement speaks truth.
Really good point. Straight to the heart.
I believe more than the conventional Christian attending Church services, raising hands and singing, as followers of Jesus we are called to live a life evident of God’s love. In our culture today, scaring people of hell won’t work anymore, people are more concerned with what they will eat rather than the spiritual matters. For a big number of human population, hell becomes an understatement so inflicting fear is not an effective way of leading people to Jesus.
But no one can go against a personal testimony of a God transformed life.
Thank you for your comments.
I too believe that nothing speaks clearer than a personal testimony of transformation.
Blessings to you!
My first thought? “No, a lot of people don’t know it, and your smug sneery sign isn’t going to convince any of them either!” It’s sad – I think their intentions are good, but their tactics just won’t work.
I thought the same thing which is why I said I was defensive. Many will disagree with me, but it’s no fun when everyone agrees anyway 😉
Reblogged this on Inspirational Christian Blogs and commented:
EXCELLENT post on what we as Believers should NOT be doing.
I agree…He is. Still that billboard is next to useless.
I like your thoughts here Joy, well said. Amazing how many “Christians” will withhold the hand of fellowship or simply be pleasant but that is all if they feel you have committed “THE” sin in their eyes. Positively sickening.
Thanks Greg! I appreciate your reading, comments and reblog.
Blessings to you my friend.