I was reading a book (what?…nate reading a book?…tell me more…), and one of the chapters was entitled “On Being A Signpost.” I’ve never completely finished the book, but I’ve read this chapter multiple times. The book is called The Fight by John White, and it’s basically about Christian living.
Now, the chapter talks about how we are supposed to be signposts that point to Christ. Basically, everything that we do should be drawing people’s attention to Jesus. The things we say, the way we live, the activities we take part in…when people look at us, they should see “Jesus.” And the analogy goes on to describe the different ways that signposts look. Signs are made to be big and clear as to what its pointing to. It’s goal is not to get people to simple look at the sign, but to go to where the sign is directing them. Think of signs on the expressway. Coming from Chicago to U of I, you’ll see big green signs that direct you to 294S, 80E, 57S, 74W (in case anyone feels like visiting: take the Neil St. exit, go right, take it to University and take a left, take that down to Fifth and take a right, and my apartment is on White St and Fifth). Now, especially if its your first time coming to U of I, it’d be very terrible if the sign was like some small 2 ft. by 2ft. carboard sign with light lettering. I mean, travelling 70+ mph down the highway, you need something massive that you can see from far away so that you don’t miss it as you’re flying past. At the same time, could you imagine if the signs had flashing lights and bells and pictures and arrows pointing at the sign itself? And off in the corner in small text are the words “294S – next exit”. You’d be so distracted by all the things on the sign that you would have no idea that it was trying to direct you to something better.
Although we try to be the signpost, many times we become the two extremes. Sometimes, we make the sign really small, that only people who are seriously searching for the sign and are carefully looking out for it can find it. How purposeless is that? We were commanded to be light of the world, yet we hide our faith and our beliefs from the general public. It’s like we’re ashamed to let people know that we know the right exit to take, so we don’t try to tell people about it.
And at the other extreme, we sometimes draw too much attention to ourselves that people don’t recognize that we’re pointing to Christ. I’ve had this problem many times, in that many people saw the external things I would do and the different talents that God gave me, and they would praise me for it. And many times, I’d simply accept the praise. Then in the end, I never really served my purpose by directing people to Christ…instead, I just got them to remember me. When I’m driving somewhere, I don’t give praise to the signs that caught my attention, but rather the ones that actually sent me in the right direction.
As in everything else, the solution is to have the delicate balance between the two. Big enough that everyone can see, but simple enough that the attention is on the final destination. I have nothing great to offer anyone, so it’s stupid of me to get their attention on me. Jesus Christ offered me a gift that nobody else had or even could, and that’s forgiveness for my sins and everlasting life with Him. He told me to get that message out to others, so I want to be the sign that points to Him. Five years down the line, if anyone has a memory of me, I would want them to think “That man was different, because he loved Jesus. I want what he had.”
Lately, I’ve been going through a phase of thinking about what if the many metaphorical analogies we use in describing our spiritual lives were actually taken literally (i.e., we are ‘spiritual lepers’). We cry out many times that we want to live for Christ and we want to draw people to Him and to His cross. We say that we want people to see Christ when they look at us. Well, what if this was all true? What if wherever we went we carried a huge sign above our heads that said “Think of Christ”. And then, wherever we went, whatever we did, people thought of Christ. If everyone looked at us a direct representation of who Christ is, what kind of image would you be portraying? The jokes we tell, the way we drive, the things we do for fun…we justify ourselves in secret, but what if someone saw us as a “Christian” in everything that we did…would they be drawn to Christ or turned away from Him?
I’ve heard from many people about how they don’t put the Jesus Fish on their cars because they know they are a bad witness when they drive. What kind of mentality is that? What kind of Christian is that? We see areas of our lives where the way we are living do not match up with the image of Christ, and instead of changing ourselves, we just remove Christ from the picture. It’s a sad picture. We take out the only thing of importance to tell someone else because we are too lazy and selfish to change ourselves.
I know that 100% of my living is not a pure representation of who Christ is. But I know my job is still to be a signpost for Christ. I might not be perfect, but I’m going to keep trying to direct others to where they need to go. Make the final destination bigger, and the sign itself less flashy. Who am I drawing attention to? I know I’ve got nothing great to offer you…so I want to send you to the one that’s greater.