When you think about it, church signs were Twitter before we ever had the Internet. And even today they convey their messages much better... and with far fewer than 140 characters.
But here's what was emblazoned on this particular church's outdoor sign:
A COUNTRY OF SHEEP BREEDS A GOVERNMENT OF WOLVES
Living in this region, it's not unheard of for a church sign to read something about current events or a quick comment on the culture. Last year a number of signs depicted support for Amendment 1 (which defined marriage as being between one man and one woman) here in North Carolina. I can't say that I've personally seen any overtly partisan messages on a church sign in this area, and I like to think that most people prefer it that way.
This message was not at all partisan. It didn't seem directed at any burning cultural issue or controversy, either. But it was something that to the very best of my knowledge I have never seen before on a church sign: implication... or accusation... that government has become a feral and ravenous beast loosed upon the land. The fault of which is an indifferent and ignorant people.
That's the meaning I took away from it. Most readers of this blog will understand how I could be sympathetic toward it. This church is located on U.S. 220 between Martinsville and Roanoke: a fairly significant roadway. And maybe, just perhaps, many other motorists will spot the sign and feel led to sincerely consider its message.
That being said: I haven't been able to shake how startled I was to read that message. The most surprising church sign that I've seen until now was probably "GOD HAVE MERCY ON AMERICA", when many signs around the Fourth of July were reading "GOD BLESS AMERICA".
Nothing nebulous about this church sign though. "A government of wolves". Brought about by "a country of sheep".
A succinct paraphrase could very well be: "Think for yourself and don't trust the government". Because if you don't think for yourself, there are plenty of others more than willing to think for you.
I like that. It jibes with the notion that government in this country derives from the people, and the people have responsibilities toward ensuring that government does not become an animal unto itself. But I digress...
Here's what's been going through my thoughts since the weekend:
This was a message from one church, out of... how many thousands upon thousands of churches across America?
If that might be the sentiment of one church (and this sort of thing tends to have input from the laity as well as the parson in charge), there may be others... many others even... likewise beginning to question temporal force with a brazen boldness. Churches whose congregants are challenging the faith we've placed in politics. A people at last daring to reassert the minds entrusted them by God.
Like I said: startling. And refreshing. And rife with a measure hope.