Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jesus on a Billboard

As the kids and I were driving north on I-294 in the Chicago suburbs, we were near O’Hare Airport when my eldest child noticed a billboard advertising a religion.  (I believe it was Islam.)   My son’s question to me was, “Why are they advertising?  Is it to spread around their religion or to make money?”  While I don’t know the true answer to his question, I do think the billboard’s purpose is to spread that particular religion and its way of thinking.  One of the kids then joked about putting Jesus on a billboard, which led to an interesting conversation about each of our lives being like billboards.

In some ways, aren’t we all advertising something?  We are sending out messages about who we are and what we believe.  Consistently practicing foolish actions and foolish words advertises that you are a fool.  Ongoing road rage and rude gestures advertises that you are an impatient, angry person.  Selflessly giving advertises that you are a compassionate person.  Being intentional in showing kindness and going the extra mile for others advertises that you are a thoughtful person.  Good or bad, we all advertise for who we are and what we believe at our core.

The saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” isn’t necessarily true all the time.  In many cases, the cover is giving us a preview of what’s inside the pages.  It is the job of the cover to give a hint of the contents!  I am drawn to many books at the library based on the cover alone…on what it’s advertising.  Is my “cover”…my advertisement…pulling others towards or away from my message and who I really am?

St. Francis of Assisi is credited as saying, “Preach the Gospel always.  If necessary, use words.”  I have always loved this quote and have pondered it often.  Obviously, I can’t “act out” salvation and redemption and other basic beliefs of my faith.  But, I can definitely give a good (or bad) advertisement for what I believe.  I can say whatever I want, but people will look at how I live my life since (unfortunately) words have become many and cheap.  We can draw people to or away from the message of hope that we have to share.

If we were all doing our job effectively, would Jesus need a billboard?