I received an email today from a Christian friend who lives in China. Attached to the note was the photo you see, which he took while walking on a busy city sidewalk.
Ironically, my friend is visiting the United States, and the photo was taken not on a Beijing street but in Washington, D.C.
The $50,000 bus billboard campaign is the work of a group called the Center for Inquiry. On their website they purport that they’re not arguing the existence of God in this ad, just His relevance in our lives.
In addition to Washington, D.C., the signs will be seen in Indianapolis and Houston.
Ron Lindsay, the organization’s CEO and president, said, “Our message is that nonbelievers are really in a lot of ways like religious people. We have the same experiences. We’re happy. We’re sad. We’re hopeful, and sometimes not. And we’re caring people.”
The Bible is clear, of course, that trouble befalls every person. That’s why even Jesus made clear in the Sermon on the Mount that “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).
But I am genuinely curious and, admittedly, a bit perplexed, when I encounter atheists or agnostics who claim to be hopeful. I can understand claiming to be happy; happiness is contingent upon circumstance. And I can surely understand sadness. Life is tough. I can also understand how a non-believing person can, in the words of their slogan, devote their life to caring for another person.
In what or whom does the atheist or agnostic place his or her hope? In people who die – or things that wear out?
As I mentioned, the Center for Inquiry claims the billboards are not suggesting that God doesn’t exist – only that He’s irrelevant.
Is that even worse?
Organizers suggest that the timing of this campaign launch, just three days prior to Ash Wednesday, is coincidental and not intended to unnecessarily offend. But what contrast to what Lent itself represents – 40 days of spiritual preparation to celebrate the single event that has most changed the course of history.
Forty days of hope.
Hope in eternity.
Hope in Jesus Christ.