Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs! “Do this.” “Don’t do that.” “Can’t you read the sign?” Someone really should write a song about this situation. Okay, I’m obviously teasing, but seriously… Have you ever noticed how many signs there are these days? There are advertisements, instructions, and suggestions at every turn. With all these signs, it seems we often pick and choose the ones we really care to obey or pay attention to (particularly when it comes to the traffic variety). Sometimes we miss the ones right in front of us. Maybe it’s caused by our familiarity with them, or perhaps we’re just kind of de-sensitized to their purpose. And then again, maybe we ignore their suggestions because we pretty much already have things figured out.
I can honestly say that for the most part, I don’t ignore them per se. Rather, I make fun of them. For example, the “SLOW children playing” sign. Is there not a better way to tell drivers to slow it down without insulting the very children in which the sign is meant to protect? “SLOW children” seems a tad rude and insensitive to me, but oh well. Or how about this one? “Damaged Guardrail Ahead”… So are you saying that this is the ideal spot to go off the cliff? Thanks! Is it a suggestion to stay on the road? Great idea – I should probably do that! Looking for a guardrail to slam into? Sorry this one has already been hit, so try the next sharp corner. Really, what’s the point?
But as I consider that last one a bit more, I think I can understand the message that is being conveyed. “Look, there is danger ahead. Please proceed with caution, because if you go too fast here or you veer from the desired path, there is nothing to catch you.” There are similar signs that we are given in scripture. Some that deal with a topic so common, that we often ignore it. Maybe on purpose, maybe by accident, or perhaps we overlook the issue because we pretty much have it all figured out.
The topic I’m referring to is sin. We all know it is bad, right? Like cruising through a school zone in the middle of a weekday, we know that this is a serious thing that we should avoid at all costs. Yet, we fall short again and again, and many times seem to be unbothered by our own indifference to the subject. We fail to find the severity of our sin. Truth is that it interrupts our prayers (Psalm 66:18), creates wedges between husbands and wives (1 Peter 3:7-12), hinders our race of endurance (Hebrews 12:1), and weighs our hearts down (Luke 21:34-36). Sin works as a roadblock to spiritual growth not only in individuals but in community as well. Have you ever felt like God was distant? Sometimes our sin can cause such a chasm (Isaiah 59:1-2).
Look this is a Monday and my goal, as always, is to be an encouragement to you, not a depressant. So here’s the deal. Is it possible that we have forgotten that repentance is not a one-time deal? You think that maybe we have mistaken the conviction of the Holy Spirit from the condemnation of the enemy? Truly friend, to be made aware of our own failure and shortcomings is nothing shy of a miraculous gift of God’s grace! To know where we’ve missed the mark means that the Lord is sanctifying and refining us. It is a sign of His grace and mercy. It proves that He is at work in us, for He loves us too much to leave us where we are. Praise God for the times when we can see our need for Him!
Through His Spirit, His Word, and His people, the Lord calls us to see our sin and repent. While our sin is heavy with guilt and shame and is accompanied by the temptation to run from our issues and our Holy God (Genesis 3:6-8), the gospel calls us not to run from God, but to run to Him! Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weak and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Imagine if we looked at our sin through the lens of the gospel? That is, what if daily we allowed our sin to remind us of our dependence upon our Savior? What if we sought to learn from our mistakes and truly make the most of our struggles by transparently sharing our stories with others in order to help them avoid some similar pitfalls? What if we modeled before our friends and family a genuine eagerness to seek the Lord with a pure heart? Finally, what would it look like if we took God at His word and realized that He has removed our sins from us and offers us forgiveness through the atoning blood of His Son?
Well, this sounds a bit idealistic and I unfortunately don’t have enough experience to explain how I’ve mastered it all. No, I’m more like Paul on this subject (Philippians 3:12-14). However, it sure seems to me like this would lead us toward authentic gospel-centered communities. It seems it would create environments where it is okay, nay, required to bring your baggage, for the purpose of laying it at the foot of the cross. Why? Because we recognize that we are all indeed helpless without Jesus. It seems that our faith might start to speak in such a way that we too become signs. A glimmer of hope in a dark world, a people that faithfully point to the saving, transformative grace that is found in Christ, Lord may we become such signs.