In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them. (Philippians 3:14-15)
Weather in early "spring" in Central Texas can be quite exciting. Recently after several days of beautiful weather, a howling "Blue Norther" came roaring through as an Artic air mass ripped down off the face of the Rockies and through the plains of Texas. Forget about the hat, we had to hold on to our hair so it wouldn't blow away.
Of all the things I was expecting to see with the cold front, one made me laugh and feel sorry at the same time. A nearby apartment complex had placed all these "cutesy" signs about the amenities of their apartment complex all along the perimeter of their chain link fence. Their property faced a little to the northeast, so when the cold front came through, each sign was neatly folded in half over itself when the wind caught the leading edge of the sign. Every single one of those "cutesy" signs was folded over and covered. All twenty plus of them suddenly became covered signs — absolutely worthless and humorously ugly. Nobody could read their cute messages about their touted amenities. The only message they shouted was, "This place is such a loser, it can't even put out signs properly!"
I know I look at life oddly, but as I stopped at a nearby light and chuckled at the situation, a sudden stab of conviction stung my heart. "That's us! That's the Christian community! That's the Church about half of the time! The best we offer many of those on the outside are covered signs! No wonder so many of them think Christianity is for losers!"
We are the recipients of God's grace. We know the price our Father was willing to pay so we could be adopted into his family. We know that death, though still a painful interruption in our lives, no longer has the final say about our future. We have a family who shares our values and that future. We have support, friendship, purpose, and joy. The Holy Spirit of God lives inside us. We can go almost anywhere in the world and find people who share a similar faith and who will treat us like family. We don't have to have "cutesy" signs to declare the goodness of God; we get to live it every day! We do, however, need to quit covering these signs!
What do I mean? How do we cover our signs?
We cover our signs in many ways. We don't share our joy in the Lord because we don't live joyfully. We ignore the folks in our church families that need help. We argue and fight about frivolous and non-essential matters. We treat each other rudely and sometimes even crudely. We let our petty selfishness destroy the unity of the Body of Christ. We let our culture mold us instead of being the source of our culture's salt and light. We go to church in neighborhoods we don't serve, and when those neighborhoods become too unlike us, we leave them to die in their own squalor. We spend more money on our conveniences than on our mission in the inner cities and to third world countries. We get all razzed up about having the Ten Commandments in public places, but don't obey their intent in our private residences. We are covered signs! We make ourselves into a religious complex for losers.
O Lord Jesus, we bid you come! And if, dear Lord, that coming not be your final return that brings about your fully recognizable glory to all people, then we bid you come and help us remove the covering off the signs of your grace so richly deposited in us. Shine so brightly upon us that we cannot help but reflect your glory and demonstrate your grace! To you belongs all praise, honor, and glory, not only forever and ever, but today in our lives. Amen.