Troubled, worried and lonely?
"Let the carpenter of Nazareth remake you". This is what the billboard said. One of the local churches had decided to advertise Christianity, and this was their best shot. Very rarely do we see the Christian faith proclaimed on the large commercial billboards around our cities. Someone else got in on the act with another creative piece. "Troubled, worried, lonely? Jesus is the answer. Write for a free Bible." The "let the carpenter remake you" message wasn't too bad, but what about the "Jesus is the answer" message?
Jesus gives us the responsibility to communicate the good news that God welcomes anyone into his presence for eternity if they just ask Jesus. There are lots of ways of presenting the gospel message, this good news of salvation through Jesus, and spending the money for an advert on a billboard is money well spent. In fact, it's what we should be doing. Part of our training for eternity rests with us understanding the gospel, and being ready, willing and able to get it out into the wider community. It's a good faith-strengthening exercise.
The problem with the "Troubled, worried, lonely, Jesus is the answer" message, is that it's not the gospel. Not only is it not the gospel, it's not true. The message "Jesus washes all your troubles away" denies the very teaching of Jesus himself. Jesus warned his disciples that if they want to follow him they will need to accept the negative consequences. There will be division in families, separation from culture and national base, persecution and even death. "Foxes have holes and birds have their nest, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Following Jesus is no picnic and can cause us trouble, worry and loneliness.
Jesus is not the answer to the difficulties of life. He is the answer to eternal life. If we want to come to know our creator God, then Jesus is the answer. He is "the way, the truth and the life."