As my family and I drove up I-24 in Chattanooga over the weekend, I saw a billboard I had never noticed before. It was an advertisement for the Chattanooga Zoo. The message on the sign caught my attention:
I immediately thought, that’s an accurate definition of living in relationship with Christ and in community with others.
Of all the places to be reminded of this truth…and I see it while riding down the interstate on a billboard advertisement for the local zoo.
On a side note, the more I thought about this sign the more amused I became. It made me think of the random black and white billboards I would see along the highway I used to travel down everyday while living in North Carolina. They would be messages from “God”
“Don’t make me come down there.” ~ GOD
“Well, you asked for a sign.” ~ GOD
Get real with Christ: “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.” James 4: 10-11 Amazing things happen when we choose to become vulnerable before our Creator. Real is the gateway to transformation. Real begins the process of healing and redemption. Real gives God permission to come into our hearts and our lives, to clean house and rearrange the furniture.
Get real with others: The sign also made me think of a portion of our church’s mission statement:
“Our mission is to glorify God by connecting people from all walks of life to life in Christ…We come as we are; we believe everyone matters to God and, therefore, matters to us…”.
When we are real with the folks around us, it’s like a nod of the head to others. Real encourages, inspires, and cultivates more real. Real lets others know that they have permission to be real too…the atmosphere is safe.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:9
Get Close to Christ: My first thought was this verse, “Come near to God and He will come near to you” – James 4:8 I also thought how Christ models closeness so well. He came to earth, made himself nothing. He chose to get close to us, to walk in our shoes and to walk along side his creation. And then, when His time had come, he makes a point to tell His disciples that He won’t leave them alone. In fact, he shares with them that it’s actually good for him to go away (in body) because His going away paves the way for the ever-present Holy Spirit. This guide would always be available to direct, to teach, to convict, to offer us peace…a faithful friend…as close as the air we breathe.
Get Close to others: I thought about the verse in Hebrews 10. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Close requires intentionality. It’s a choice we have to make everyday…to be willing to be inconvenienced and to invest in those around us…and Jesus is our example to follow. (Philippians 2: 1-11)
Get Connected with Christ: I thought about a verse I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately in John 15. “I am the vine; you are the branches.” This is where we must choose to abide. This is where we must make our home. This is where the Spirit living inside us will receive its strength and its wisdom.
Get Connected with others: We were designed to live connected. Even the way the Trinity, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is set up and functions reveals this truth to us. We need each other. I love this reminder in Ecclesiastes: “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
A lesson on a zoo sign?
Well, Lord, I guess you were talking to one of your sheep. 🙂