Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Things I Can't Explain

Isaac asked me the other day why God made mosquitoes. The only answer I had was, "I don't know, but I hope that once I get to heaven, I'll find out. Surely there was a good reason."

And then there are some of the signs on churches around here. There are three churches on every block, practically, and sometimes they have very... odd... signs. One I've seen declares itself to be "The Church You've Been Looking For" with big reflective stickers tacked by hand onto a large sheet of warped plywood. Um, yeah, that's what I'm looking for in a church...

This one has continued to puzzle me:

What could that possibly mean?

Is it a church that puts an equal number of tongues-speakers on either side of the aisle? Or one that caters specifically to gymnasts by placing balance-beams at the front? Perhaps their slogan is a euphemism for "we sing half old-timey hymns and half newer music in our worship services." Maybe they teach their members to "straddle fences in every area of life -- don't come down on either side of an issue, find a way to embrace both or eschew both."

If I had to venture a semi-educated guess, I'd say that this sign was a reaction to some sort of church split, that this was a splinter group of folks from some other church who'd had enough of some unnamed something-or-other, and that they were going to quit leaning so far towards whatever extremity the original group had been involved in. Who knows what it might've been... in this area, that could've been anything from "women in ministry vs. men-only leadership" to "old music vs. new music" or even "hymnals vs. projector." Might've been "charismatic vs. ... well, non-charismatic" or "fundamentalist vs. progressivist."

All this is pretty ridiculous to me. I'm sure it's triply so to an un-churched individual. I wish that church leadership would be more careful to consider their appearance to unbelievers, since that's really who we're trying to communicate the message of Jesus to. I don't mean a watered-down gospel of appeasement and appeal; that's not the gospel message at all. But at the very least, a church shouldn't confuse people by the spoken and unspoken messages it delivers.

It grieves me, in a way, because this church sign is obviously reactionary. They're declaring themselves to be "balanced." As opposed to -- what? It's obviously opposed to something, which puts everyone else on an immediate defense position. I'm not a member there, so obviously they think I'm UNbalanced. This is not the kind of place I'm going to visit if I'm desperate for answers and in need of kindness and love. And kindness and love is what should set us apart from the Muslims and the Hindus and the Whosits and Whatsits... our Savior doesn't want to strike them dead with a bolt of lightning, he loved them so much that he died in their stead. Crucial difference, here... "There is, therefore, now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

Someday I think I'll look up this church's phone number, call them, and ask them what it actually means. Of course, knowing how much I loathe calling strangers on the telephone, it's unlikely to be anytime soon.

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