Billboards (Romans 16:3-5)

Cool! There’s another one! 

I pressed my face against the oversized windows of the tour bus as we passed another billboard along the freeway. It was my first visit to California and the first time I had left my island home of Hawaii. I was 11 years old and my mother took me and my younger sister on a summer vacation trip to Southern California. Amongst the usual tourist spots such as Magic Mountain, Disneyland, and Knotts Berry Farm, I was treated to something that I had never seen before, except in movies and television shows-billboards.

Hawaii has a law banning billboards. Recently I learned that three other states, Alaska, Vermont, and Maine, have adopted similar laws. Like Hawaii, which was the first, the laws were written to protect the natural beauty of their respective states, preserving and protecting the very qualities that make Hawaii and these other states tourist destination spots.

However, when I was younger, I did not care about these issues. All I wanted to see was a billboard, regardless if it covered or hid any natural beauty or was an eyesore with relentless and repetitive advertisements. Presently, I sometimes look behind the billboards to see what is being obscured. Although many times, it is simply another building, at times I have been surprised by the view of a tree or other natural wonder that I would not have noticed had I not made the extra effort. 

How much more of God’s beauty and truth would I be exposed to and be made aware of if it wasn’t covered with extraneous, man-made details? What about the Church? In many parts of the world, Christian believers face persecution for their faith. Their Christian faith is outlawed and punishable by death if anyone is found with a Bible or professes their faith in Jesus Christ. Their families are imprisoned, tortured, and even murdered. They are unable to worship in a public church and meet in homes and secret locations. It is no different than the first churches. 

Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches. Also give my greetings to the church that meets in their home. 

Romans 16:3-5 (NLT)

The first Christian churches were not ornate cathedrals or ultramodern spectacles of metal and glass. They were groups of devoted believers, meeting in homes. The Apostle Paul recognized and honored his dear sister and brother in the Lord, Priscilla and Aquila, and greeted the church that met in their home. There were no youth programs or elaborate worship teams. There were only believers meeting to pray and worship the living God, Jesus Christ. Today’s churches have many programs that are noble undertakings and provide important activities but perhaps we need to look behind the facade of the building and return to the essence of what makes the Church, the living Body of Jesus Christ. Like looking behind the billboards, the true beauty and mission of the Church may be found in the corporate worship of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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