Several years ago, when I was first trying hard to take my faith seriously, I ran across a book by John White entitled The Fight: A Practical Handbook for Christian Living. This wonderful little volume helped me put several of the thoughts and feelings I had held most of my life in line. It helped me gain a better grasp on how to begin to live this new life in Christ with meaning and purpose. One of the illustrations he used that has stuck with me is that of being a signpost. White talks about our call to be witnesses to Jesus. He relates this to the job of a signpost. I have found this to be profoundly helpful. He writes:
A signpost points to a destination. It matters little whether the signpost is pretty or ugly, old or new. It helps if the lettering is bold and clear. But the essential features are that it must point in the right direction and be clear about what it is pointing to (pp.87-88).
He goes on to say that most of us don’t really remember much about the signposts along the road. If they serve their purpose, they get us to our destination. We probably don’t think much more about them. A good sign is clear and concise. Its message is clearly and easily understood. It is self-effacing, in that it does not draw attention to itself except to help a traveler see how to reach the destination to which it points. As witnesses to Jesus, this is our job as well. Our lives and our faith should be lived simply and clearly so that those we meet, who are seeking for God, can see our lives pointing in the direction of Christ. It’s really as simple (and complicated) as that.
The author of the Gospel of John shares miracle stories for this specific purpose. He calls them “signs” performed by Jesus. These acts of wonder are intended to give us guidance or clues, if you will. They lead us to see the identity of Jesus as God in the Flesh. If you haven’t read through those in a while, you might do well to spend some time there. While reflecting on those signs and on how Jesus calls us to follow him, you may just find yourself equipped to be a better signpost to those around you.
One of the reasons I love reading through the Gospel of John is that it causes me to re-examine my role as a signpost. What is my life pointing to? How clear is the message I am giving for those who look on? Were others to follow the direction to which I am pointing, would they end up at Christ? In my life these have been truly fruitful questions which have enabled my holiest and most noble pursuits.
So here’s the crucial question in two parts. This past year, what has your life pointed others toward? In the year to come, how can you more effectively point others to Christ?