Monday, October 29, 2007

Just (Juxtaposed) Opposed

On the eastern side of I75 around Loudon, TN there are two things that you can’t help but notice screaming for your attention as you drive down the highway. The first one you’ll see is actually a response to the second. At 99 feet tall, its hard to miss the giant white cross on the side of the road. Spanning about 100 yards with bright blue roofs and giant billboards, it is equally hard to miss the super-sized Adult World in its shadow.

Quite the juxtaposition, huh?
I’ve driven past this spectacle about eleven times in the last year, never really thinking about it until the last two. What happened here? The “Semis Welcome!” sign on Adult World makes it obvious why the store is there. But, why the jumbo cross? One could make any number of guesses as to the reasoning of those who paid for its construction.
“We want to let people know that Jesus is greater than pornography.”

“We don’t want that kind of stuff in our town, we want the Lord.”
“We want those people to know that God sees their actions.”

It is not hard to think about the point of view of the cross makers, but what about the store patrons? What do they think when they see that giant white “X”?

Chances are pretty slim that they’ll walk out into the bright sunlight with a bag of DVDs and their eyes will curiously follow the shadow across the parking lot to find the sun eclipsed by the magnificent cross, its rays beaming gloriously out from every side and they will fall to their knees, miraculously realizing that what is in their hands won’t bring them a portion of the happiness that Jesus can.

Chances are also pretty slim that getting out of their car they will look up to their left and see the cross, then to their right and see the store - left, right - left, right - left, right and decide that from this moment on they will choose the cross over all else and never sin again.

It is a much more likely scenario that the person will look at nothing but the ground on their way into the store. They will conduct their business in the store and come outside into the sunshine. The shadow on the ground will not lead them to a miraculous discovery of grace, but instead will remind them of the scorn and condemnation that they feel for themselves and reassure them that this is the same response they will get from others - especially those who built that cursed symbol of their suffering and shame.

You want to build a monument to God’s glory and grace? Fine. Not my cup o’ tea, maybe not the best use of God’s resources (“Sell all you have and build a giant cross” doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Sell all you have and give it to the poor.”), but not a bad thing in and of itself.

But think about the message you might be giving to others. As the church, judgment and retribution are not our job. It is not enough to be lazy and just opposed to immorality. We have to offer a solution, the solution. The world has enough judgment and condemnation, it needs acceptance, love and compassion. Put away your cross and open your arms.

1 comment:

The Quiet Hebraist said...

I actually have a picture of that juxtaposition, I found it so striking. Of course, I had my wife the photographer take it. She shot it after shooting a wedding. I'll see if I can find it.