DON’t get me wrong. I’m all in favour of signs outside churches aka ‘Wayside Pulpits’. After all I had one outside St Kilda Church for long enough. People would often ask me, ‘What kind of church is this?’ So I put up a sign:
THIS CHURCH IS:
I don’t know how many it brought in or how many it turned away, but I do believe in nailing your colours to the masthead. I know that a number of people came once, until they realised that our definition of ‘Spirit-Filled’ meant living by grace through faith according to the teaching of God’s Word by the testimony of the Holy Spirit and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
But who remembers that silly sign of a few years ago which said: ‘Are you so Heavenly that you are of no Earthly use’? The great evangelical Church of Scotland minister Eric Alexander said of it: ‘I’ve never seen anyone who is so Heavenly that he’s no Earthly use; but I’ve seen plenty of people who are so Earthly that they’re no Heavenly use!’
Sadly, that is all too true – because he was speaking about people in the visible church whose practice failed to match their profession. In effect, the Earthly-minded are saying to the watching world, ‘Look, we’re not much different to you!’ And in return the world says (with contempt): ‘Well look, you’re not much use to us!’ and just keeps going on the ‘Primrose Way to the everlasting bonfire.’
We should encourage the Heavenly-minded and seek to be so ourselves because Heavenly-mindedness highlights the difference between us and the watching world, and shows what a difference Christ makes in the life of the believer. It shows how much better and brighter is life with Christ, indeed how abundant, in fact, eternal, is that life. And we prayerfully hope that it will cause at least some of the worldly to see the difference and say: ‘I want what they’ve got.’
By all means let’s have a ‘Wayside Pulpit’, but let’s have a useful message on it. One Lord’s Day recently I was driving home to Mitcham from Caulfield Church where our minister, Rev Phillip Chang, had preached a faithful and challenging sermon. Along the way I drove past Malvern Uniting Church, whose Wayside Pulpit said: ‘Moments, and the passing of moments. Such is life.’ I kid you not. By contrast with the nonsense on that sign, I also drove past Vermont Anglican Church whose notice board had this message: ‘The Bible says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths”.’ Full marks to them. Heavenly signs are of great Earthly use in bringing the Earth-bound on to being Heaven-bound by the purpose and grace of God.
– Bob Thomas