After hitting myself on the head twice in two weeks, the first time walking into the edge of a metal sign, I ran across this picture and thought it was pretty fitting. Don’t miss the subtitle. It is priceless.
I think two questions are important to answer when it comes to faith and religion:
1 – What themes, doctrines, and traditions do you focus on, putting it in big letters in the middle of the sign, and which would you relegate to the subtitles?
2 – What themes, doctrines, and traditions does the average person in the pew hear the most and which are kept to the periphery?
These answers need to line up. If Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 2:2) is the central message of our faith, any given person who comes through the doors on any given Sunday should leave that morning getting it. That doesn’t mean every week we preach on the crucifixion and resurrection but it does mean that the message is still present in as many ways as we can come up with. I wonder how many times I have put the headline in the subtitle or off the sign completely and spent too long focusing on minutia. Just because something is interesting to me doesn’t mean it is a rabbit trail to take a whole congregation down in a sermon, Bible class or small group lesson. That is a difficult one for me because I love the details.
If we are going to succeed in making the main thing the main thing we need to analyze the sign posts we have erected and make sure that the signs we raise before people match what this is all about in the first place. If we notice the main point can only be found in the small print then it is time for an overhaul.
What is more, this type of thinking is one thing that can bring unity to various groups of Christians. When we look at our signs we will often notice that many have the same thing in the big letters with all sorts of different things in the subtitles. Unity comes when we notice the core aspects of our faith are the same, while many of our disagreements are over some very small and negotiable aspects of our faith (this is not always true, some disagreements can certainly still be major!).
What is sad and frustrating is that many splits and divisions have occurred over people who transposed their faith headlines with the negotiables and then got mad at other people who were not willing to also flip their signs around. The results are just as deadly as the sign pictured above. How many people would read that sign and thing they were safe as long as they don’t get cut on that sign, only to drive past it and fall to their death over a collapsed bridge? If people read your sign, will the road ahead be any safer for them?
What does your sign say vs. what should your sign say? Do they match?
I like this entry. Well done, Matt.
Great post, Matt!
Makes me think of 1 Timothy 1:3-11.
you have a typo in the post title.
I am only sharing because it is kinda ironic for me, to point out that and miss the point of the article.
I enjoyed the article and viewing your blog. Good thoughts and intriguing messages for us all to ponder.
I fear that many preachers have “missed the point” in exclaiming, almost weekly, a particular doctrinal position, when the Gospel in its entirety must be preached.
I am a preacher and I have observed, among my peers, the temptation to teach the sinfulness of certain false ideas about how to worship God, so often. At the same time, they rarely preach on other important topics. True worship is essential but when the congregation is already worshiping correctly we must assume that it is time to move on to another subject of study.
Similarly, some issues within topics are overemphasized and others are deemphasized. For example, I hear a sermon on faith and the preacher is spending 90% of the time arguing why faith alone does not save. Perhaps we can address this as a sub point but not take it too far. Or, in preaching about grace, the preacher spends 90% of the sermon arguing why Christians must “work the works of God” and that grace alone will not save. These are not “minutia” in the grand scheme but the point is that there must be BALANCE in preaching.
Thank you for letting me post.
Keep blogging, bro.
I’m going to use this sign in our sunday school lesson this week on Trusting God, Materialism, and the real point of the Christmas Season… thanks so much for posting this!