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The Open Door

 

I know billboard advertising is very expensive, so there must be a lot of thought and planning that goes into a billboard message before it is ever printed and then pasted up on the board. That’s why I am still a bit confused over a billboard I saw recently on I-75 in north Georgia.

I am all for spiritually-based billboards. I believe they can be very effective in keeping the right message in front of people. The folks around Warner Robins and south of Warner Robins have done a great job in creating I-75 billboards with spiritual messages to counter the billboards advertising the strip club industry that have long been an embarrassment and an offense to decent Georgia citizens and especially Christians who have led the fight against the pervasive and offensive advertising.

So, what about the billboard I saw in north Georgia? The billboard reads: “Jesus is Lord and you know it.” As I went by at 70 miles per hour – yes, I was really going 70 – I tried to catch a second glance at the message to make sure I had read it correctly.

Yes, I did read the message accurately, so what was the intent of the message? No doubt, the composer wants people to know that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. But, wait a minute. He says that people already know that Jesus is Lord; they just need to go ahead and admit that they know it.

I really wish it was that easy!

My take on things is really quite different. I don’t think everybody already knows that Jesus is Lord. At least 70% of Georgians are living across Georgia today thinking they are Lord.

Their primary interest has not been in spiritual things. More than likely, their lives have been very materially based. They don’t have time or room for God or church in their busy lives. Many feel that God, and consequently, the church, are irrelevant.

It is our commitment to come alongside your church to enlighten, encourage, educate, and engage your congregation to be fluent about their faith …

There is nothing that can be done for them that they are unable to provide for themselves. They don’t know that Jesus is Lord, and they don’t care about spiritual things.

Now, for me, that is a pretty negative paragraph, but I believe it paints the picture of our mission field. Yes, Georgia is a mission field! People who live in Georgia and are lost without Christ are just as lost as someone in any other part of the world that is lost.

Some argue, “Well, that may be true, but at least here folks have access to the Gospel.” Actually, having access to the Gospel and being confronted with the Gospel are two completely different things. People who may have access to the Gospel may very well not know that the Gospel is for them, may not know that Jesus Christ died for their sins, may not know that the resurrection of Christ is for real or that it is the assurance that those who believe in Jesus and receive Him as Lord will likewise live for eternity.

In reality, they have to be told. They have to be confronted with the Gospel. We will never win Georgia to Christ because they “have access to the Gospel” any more than your church will reach the unchurched of your community by opening your doors on Sunday morning and giving them access to your church building. People here need to be told of the love of God in Christ Jesus, just as they need to be told overseas.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the billboard reflected the view that as long as I believe that people already know that Jesus is Lord, then I don’t have to tell them. They should just go ahead and admit it or face an eternity in hell.

On the other hand, if they really don’t know, don’t we have a responsibility to tell them? But, they have access. Really? Actually, we are the access. Access can’t be passive; it has to be active.

That’s why the ministries of the Georgia Baptist Con-vention are so important. It is our commitment to come alongside your church to enlighten, encourage, educate, and engage your congregation to be fluent about their faith, to be “access” to the Gospel on active duty, if you please, to make a significant spiritual impact upon our mission field in Georgia.

I am thankful to be a Georgia missionary, because we have a mission field that reflects significant lostness. When you live in a state that is only 20% to 30% Christian, you live in a state that needs more than “access” to the Gospel. It needs vibrant churches, associations, and a state convention that are on fire for Christ and daily penetrating the darkness with the light of Jesus Christ.