Hang in There. Stay Safe?

Hang in There. Stay Safe. That was a quote that appeared on a church’s board near our home sometime during the week of Easter. It’s still there right now. This church has been notorious for posting bad signs, but this one caught me even more.

Is this ALL we have to offer? “Hang in there. Stay safe.” During a time of social, political, and familial unrest AND occurring amidst the holiest of holy weeks for our church year calendar it looked trite and easy. I look at that sign as I pass it almost daily and I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed of what we have done to Christianity.

The watering down, the socially ok response to things that are clearly outside the Bible and the fact that in the midst of a trial, we didn’t even send out a lifeboat, much less a preserver. Firstly, Christianity has never been about being safe. Christ came to shake things up, not to pat people on the head and make them feel better regardless of what they were doing with their time, bodies, finances, etc. He came to bring life. In order to do that, He had to die, and then those that were willing to follow him would have to have their own deaths. For many, that meant crosses of their own and for some it was isolation and loss of jobs, families, beatings and so many other trials. It’s still the same thing we must face and be willing to tackle today if we want to truly follow Christ. It might not be the physical death right now, but we must die to ourselves in order to follow Christ. We can’t have it both ways.

True discipleship is not an easy thing. It requires admitting we were wrong, finding out how to make it right, and doing so even at great cost to ourselves and many times all of those around us. Jesus met with sinners and called them to repentance. He showed them that the life they truly craved was one that wasn’t about this earth or this time, but eternity. It could potentially cost them everything in this life, but their future would be secure.

Secondly, when the world is crashing and burning, when people are stuck at home in fear of their earthly lives amidst conflicting information and bad news brigades abounding, where was the church? Were we and are we really out serving those who needed and still need it in body and soul? Were we making sure that should this “pandemic” actually be real, they had hope in what was to come?

Signs like the one above speak little of Christ or his offer of life unaffected by sickness and loss of income. They don’t offer an opportunity to have peace in the midst of the trials. They give us a pat on the head and send us back to our homes to contemplate what really matters without any guidance.

The Bible is a powerful book. It has what one of my favorite pastors calls “wonderful spells”. We have a God who loves us enough to have died on a cross for us. One who was willing to bridge a gap that couldn’t have been crossed any other way. That is what we celebrate at Easter. A God-man who humbled himself to become man so that he could die on a cross to save us. That is powerful. It’s so powerful that it is life-changing.

We no longer have to fear the ravages of war, the onset of sickness, the instances of job loss, and income reduction that can come. Jesus offers us refuge in his wings. He offers to carry us when we can no longer move of our own volition. He promises His love is everlasting and unending. We can mess up and yet with repentant hearts, He will forgive our sins. That’s something to sing about, something to shout about. We should do it every day, but especially when there is a reason that the world might listen more closely.

I hope this event in our history will help us all learn something. That we will be willing to run toward the battle and not away from it. That we will make sure we are putting on our armor every day so that we can have a defense that is strong and sure to the wiles of the devil. If we will do this, we may be able to shield those around us from the fiery arrows and the deadly pestilence while they prepare their defense. May the signs that we show to the world be ones of hope and a future. Something that can be a balm during trying times. May we use the billboards of our lives to share a story and a way to be filled with peace in the midst of the craziness around us. He's risen! Don't know? Call!

I like that sign a bit better and it's the same amount of words. Let us tell the world something with what we say especially if it can bring hope! It’s a much better sign and one that fits. I pray it’s the sign my life sends out every day.