True story: The other day I was driving down the street and there was a guy on the corner with a hand-lettered sign, “Jesus Loves You John 3:16.” As I drove past him, I realized there was a second guy standing about the middle of the block with a hand-lettered sign, “No He Doesn’t!”
So many questions flooded my mind.
When I see someone displaying the familiar John 3:16 quote on a sign I always wonder – what is their story? What about this scripture speaks to their experience, their questions about God and life? What inspires them to stand on a cold street corner to smile and wave at passersby? While it is not my method for sharing the Good News, I respect that both this quote and this activity hold sacred meaning for those folks.
In a different, but no less reverent way, I embrace the second gentleman’s story as sacred, too. No judgement; just questions. What has happened in his life that he has come to the conclusion that Jesus does not love him/us? Has he seen the horrors of war? The grinding oppression of poverty or racism? The depths of addiction or mental illness? Perhaps the lackluster faithfulness of some Christians has convinced him that “love” is just another hollow slogan.
“Holy God, in this Advent season we prepare to celebrate anew the birth of Jesus, the fullness of your love and your desire that all people everywhere might live in peace, joy, and beauty now and forevermore. We humbly pray that we, too, may be witnesses to your love and that our lives may be signs of hope and healing for sisters and brothers lost in darkness or despair. Amen.”