by Al Benson Jr.
We’ve all seen those newsy little sayings on church signs around the country. Although some of them are cute, they often don’t say an awful lot. Unfortunately, this has become a characteristic of many churches in our day–they don’t say an awful lot. We get lots of “be nice and don’t offend anyone” balderdash, the sort of thing our Lord Jesus gave the lie to when He chased the money changers out of the temple, where they had set up shop in the Court of the Gentiles.
Recently, I read an article on http://www.defiantamerica.com about a church in Hood River, Oregon that seems to be giving the local Muslims fits. Hood River is a small town between Portland and The Dalles (but closer to The Dalles). The article was from February 27th of this year. The Missionary Baptist Church in Hood River has a sign out front that says: Wake up Christians. Allah is not our God. Muhammad is not greater than Jesus. The sign also says Only the Bible is God’s word. holy book Qur’an is just another book.
In checking back, I found that this sign has been in front of this church since sometime in the Spring of 2016, so this is not a new development. What’s new, (and refreshing) is that the pastor of this church, Michael Harrington, does not profess to be politically correct (culturally Marxist). Pastor Harrington has said he has never claimed to be a devotee of the politically correct mindset. He said “I think I’m Biblically correct, and that’s what matters to me.” What’s more, Pastor Harrington has not taken the sign down and it has been there now for probably a year now. This seems to have bothered some of the locals whose spiritual roots might be open to question.
Given the apostate age we live in, there are many who continue to be “offended” at what Pastor Harrington put up and has left up on his church sign. A local resident on a bike ride noticed the sign and commented that it “profoundly offended” him. If telling the truth on a church sign “profoundly offends” him, then I guess you can tell where he is at. And even the local mayor has not seemed to believe in the pastor’s First Amendment rights. He has called the sign “a solid case of ugly.” Kind of makes you wonder what they have for town government in Hood River. Almost makes me wonder if the mayor has, at some point, converted to Islam. I wonder, would the mayor have made such a fuss if there were a sign in front of the local mosque that said that Allah was God and not Jesus? I’d be willing to bet that wouldn’t have bothered him. Since Pastor Harrington has, up to this point, refused to take the sign down, I guess the local population will just have to struggle through life seeing a sign proclaiming Jesus as God at Pastor Harrington’s church. I really hope they can manage. Coping is so hard when you deny the truth.
I wonder, how many churches around the country would have scrambled to take the sign down posthaste if it offended anyone except Christians. It seems that it’s okay to offend Christians. It’s always open season on them and they are always in the cross hairs. I have known Christians around the country who don’t want to “offend” anyone and so they take great strides (backwards) to get away from anything that might proclaim Christian truth, lest that truth “offend” some unbeliever somewhere. Quite frankly, their passiveness in regard to those who willingly assault their faith offends me!
Jesus Christ offended lots of people during His earthly ministry, chief among them being the religious leaders of Israel who were more into the Talmud than they were God’s Law.If you think Jesus came to earth to be “Mr. Nice Guy” take a look at Matthew 10:34, or the entire 23rd chapter of Matthew. Then begin to realize, and let it sink in, that it was the spiritual leaders of Israel that plotted to put Him to death. Oh, they got the Romans to do the deed, but the idea was their baby, not Rome’s.
Christian truth will always offend those who don’t want to believe it. That’s just the way it is. The pastor at our church says that if you are not offending someone then you are probably not doing anything. He’s right. That doesn’t mean that we go out of our way to be offensive but I think we need to be more concerned about speaking the truth in love than about offending those who will not believe, no matter who they are.