Sermon Text: Matthew 16:13-20
Several months ago I read on the USA Today website an interesting article about a controversy that has been brewing over in Louisiana. Let me share it with you:
“Even if it did double as a bug-zapper (it doesn’t), the big blue neon JESUS sign outside the Church of Abundant Life in Harvey, Louisiana, would have to go, so say Jefferson Parish officials, who claim they inadvertently approved installation of the 5-foot-high, 21-foot-wide sign last November. Now they’re fighting to unplug the $15,000 Savior, saying it exceeds the maximum size for a residential area. The church contends it’s not a sign at all but a religious symbol that the government can’t regulate. A vote [was] due from the parish Zoning Appeals Board August 15 [of this year].”
I tried to find a follow up to the story, but haven’t yet. It would definitely be interesting to see just what the outcome of that vote was … although; maybe they’re still fighting over it.
However, I have a question for you: Does it really make a difference whether the Abundant Life Church gets to keep its big blue JESUS sign? It kind of sounds a little tacky ... done in poor taste? And I certainly don’t know if I would want a big blue JESUS sign sitting in a yard down the street from our house on San Jose Blvd. Come to think of it, No … I would definitely NOT want one. Nonetheless, another thing I definitely do NOT want is the government regulating religion. So maybe the Abundant Life folks should win.
But, you see, there’s a BIGGER issue at stake here. IS a big blue sign saying JESUS outside a church appropriate in the first place? A recent Pew Research Center poll showed that only 70.6% of the U.S. population claims to have faith in God. So, in this culturally diverse society where 29.4% of the population has no faith at all and the rest of us worship several different gods ... including Jesus ... isn’t there a good possibility we might OFFEND persons who are NOT part of our faith?
Which brings us to an even BIGGER QUESTION: Does It Really Make A Difference Who Jesus Is?
Let’s think about that for a few minutes this morning...Read full sermon here (PDF)