Real examples of signs with mixed messages:
- From Los Angeles, CA – Antique tables made daily!
- From Racine, WI – Happy Easter / We rent handguns
- From Mitchell, SD – Safe Haven Small Animal Hospital / Hunters Welcome!
- From Mill Valley, CA – a sign reading “Evacuation Route” with an arrow pointing straight ahead, but on the same post a “Not a Through Street” sign*
Talk about mixed messages! Which are we to believe? Have you also experienced the same when it comes to Christians?
First, other notice that the behavior of Christians doesn’t jive with what we believe. As a group, we don’t practice what we preach.
We preach about gentleness but lose our religion when a car pulls out in front of us. We preach about commitment in marriage but flirt with a coworker calling it innocent fun. We preach about trust in God but then whine to our friends about the stress of all our worries. We preach about kindness to others but excel at taking care of ourselves.
Secondly, have you experienced mixed messages from God? He says he’ll take care of believers if we put our lives in his hands but, people who don’t want anything to do with God sure seem like they’re making it better than we are. Makes you wonder if it’s really worth the trouble of being a religious person.
There is, of course, a perception issue here. Mixed messages can be in the eye of the beholder. The expectation that Christians will live perfectly sin-free lives is a faulty perception. The assumption that the ungodly are being rewarded by God for the sin-full living is a faulty perception.
So the answer to mixed messages must lie not within our personal perception or interpretation, but outside of it. In unarguable truth. God’s own word.
John the Baptist knew this well and, as a faithful messenger of God, realigned these mixed messages for the crowds coming out to him.
God’s answer to the faulty perception of a society that expects holier living from Christians is that we ought to shape up. Rather than faulting society for expecting too much, God faults Christians for offering too little. It’s time to repent and sin no more. To Christians eager to make ourselves look good John says, “Don’t accuse people falsely,” and to Christians striving to boost our income to cover a lifestyle that exceeds our paycheck John says, “Be content with your pay” (Luke 3:14).
God’s answer to the faulty perception that he isn’t fair to those who follow him because he dispenses all the goodies to the ungodly finds its answer also in John. He was handpicked by God for special assignment from heaven, a deity’s VIP, and yet his wardrobe contained no Armani suits decorated with bling and no expense accounts to eat at the finest restaurants in the city.
Camel’s hair. Locusts. The simple life. Yet Jesus said of him, “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).
Watch out for mixed messages. God’s Word is alway true.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, since you have made me your messenger I ask for your help to communicate you as accurately as possible to other people. May they see in me your kindness and love, and a trust that does not depend on my understanding. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: What is a message you often teach to others (like friends or children) that is important to you? Others would observe you practicing this, and agree that it is important to you.