Catch-Phrase Christians

Here's my up-front disclaimer: I'm not fond of Christian jokes and one-liners. I might be a terrible stick-in-the-mud, but when I pass a church marquee sign posting a "Christian" message, I wince. Although I fight the urge, I read it. And sometimes I need to seek God's forgiveness for the thoughts that enter my mind after my car has passed by.

I live in a small town where church marquee signs are prevalent. Before Election Day, one sign read, "To find God, turn right and go straight." A left-leaning friend was outraged by what she believed was a political message. Granted, the church was located on the right side of the road, but I wondered if the pastor realized that, if drivers decided to "go straight," they would eventually end up at the Davison Bacon & Sausage Works down the road. (Can God really be found between tubes of hanging salami?)

Another local church sign once read, "If God gave you the same priority you give Him, would you be saved?" My instinctive response was a low growl. I wasn't being convicted by the Holy Spirit; I simply have an adverse reaction to being smacked in the head while traveling down Main Street. It doesn't seem to reflect our Savior's style.

Several Christian websites are dedicated to help "spread the gospel rapidly" by posting catchy one-liners such as "God answers knee-mail," "God loves everyone, but probably prefers ?fruits of the spirit' over ?religious nuts'," and "Sitting in church doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car." My response is always the same: "Huh?"

Or consider the church sign I passed while jogging on a terrifically hot day. It read, "WARNING! Exposure to the Son may prevent burning." Sure, I get it. But why does it make me crazy?

I feel especially provoked by one-liners like, "Why do some people change churches? What difference does it make which one you stay home from?" and "Don't make me come down there–signed God." Statements like this are patronizing, condescending,, and place the reader on the defensive side of living.

Do we really want to guilt people into worshipping with us? When people read these messages and the out-loud response is, "See?THAT'S why I don't go to church!" we've failed our community–and our faith.

Before I gave my life to Christ, reading "Be ye fishers of men. You catch ?em; he'll clean ?em," would have never worked for me. If I believed, prior to my darkening the doors of the church, that some wanted to "catch" and "clean me," I would have swum for my life. I have always had a highly developed fight-or-flight instinct, and I had no interest in being caught or cleaned.

December 26, 2008 at 1:49 PM

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