This week’s bad church sign is actually a bad church van sign.
Can you imagine riding by this vehicle on your way to work? I have been trying to imagine the driver’s face as he pulls by people. He is definitely not embarrassed. Maybe he turns a glance at every passing car in a judgmental, arrogant stare. Maybe he thrives on getting people upset. Who knows?
The sign says:
“REPENT OR BURN IN HELL
THE FEARFUL, UNBELIEVING, ABOMINABLE, MURDERS,
SORCERERS, IDOLATERS, AND ALL LIARS SHALL HAVE THEIR PART IN THE LAKE OF FIRE!
GOD REVELATION 21:8″
[Then on the driver’s door:]
PLEASE GIVE TO
10% TITHE YOUR
Driving across America today is a van whose attempt is to turn America’s heart back to Jesus (whose name isn’t even mentioned here). Here’s the problem with it:
- It is the Holy Spirit’s job to bring conviction on people’s lives, not church vans. God never once commissioned church vans with the job of conviction concerning unrepentant sinners. “And when he (Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).
- It is God’s kindness that leads to repentance, not wrath. Yes, I believe in God’s wrath. I agree with the right and the need of the wrath of God, but fear alone cannot lead to salvation. It is His kindness which unfortunately is not seen on this lovely minivan. “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).
- It is the evangelist’s job to bring joyfully the gospel due to his love for the sinner, not a damning message devoid of relationship. Do I believe in Revelation 21:8? Yep. Do I believe that it being plastered on a church van helps anyone? Nope. Taken by itself, it appears that anyone who has ever sinned in any of those ways (especially whoremongering which few people even know what that is from the KJV) is going to hell without hope. The problem is when Jesus enters into the situation. And legalistic, Pharisaical messages that portray perfection on their part and judgment for everyone else devoid of relationship is untrue and simply unhelpful. “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8).