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The banner on the bus says…

This blog post has been on my mind for the last few days. I have been contemplating how to convey my thoughts without being controversial. I guess that’s the nature of ‘religion’ in the 21st century Western society that I find myself in.

Whether it’s the Archbishops causing controversy over a letter sent to clergy on the upcoming general election or recent reports of a blasphemy probe from comments Stephen Fry made two years ago, God can spark conversation and debate, whether you believe in God or not. I wrote about Stephen Fry’s comments in a blog post at that time which resulted in my first experience of being trolled. It was a learning curve.

‘I’m a sucker for advertising…’

On a recent visit to Cambridge, I opened the curtains of my Travelodge room to greet the morning. I was on the third floor and looking down I noticed a bus had stopped with a very clear message:

“Oh mankind, spread peace and feed people.” #prophetofmercy – Muhammad (Peace be upon him and his family)

The Prophet of Mercy is a campaign to spread the ‘true message of Islam with prophetic sayings on buses nationwide which depict love, peace and harmony.’ With so much Islamophobia around, I appreciate their view of wanting to counter the awful way that many Muslims have been treated and instead convey a message of peace. On my return to Exeter, I spotted four or five buses with this advertised. Their campaign has taken ground.

However, it got me thinking about another campaign that churches across the country have been involved in. It’s called Try Praying. It’s a 7-day prayer booklet for those who don’t go to church, but are open to find out about God. Like the Prophet of Mercy campaign, Try Praying has bus adverts which simply say ‘Try Praying.’

I really like the idea of Try Praying and there is a booklet as part of the campaign which can be a helpful way for those who don’t engage with God at all to begin a conversation. This blog is not trying to tear down the efforts of Try Praying or those who are reaching out to encourage others. But it got me thinking. Try praying to who? The bus advert alone doesn’t give much away. What sets the Christian faith apart from Islam if the method of reaching others is the same – a bus advert?

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Christians have good news to share, but is a bus advert the best way to get the word out? It’s certainly a tool. After all, adverts are effective. I am writing a blog post about what I saw on an advert and telling my readers.

In my opinion, nothing can substitute sharing good news by word of mouth. I can testify to this when I had the joy of sharing the news of my pregnancy with others. Before long I was getting messages of congratulations from people I hadn’t directly told, but who had heard about it from someone else or read it on my blog!

It can be difficult to share the good news of Jesus with other people, especially considering the controversy I mentioned earlier. Questions enter my mind such as: ‘You will push them away if you mention Jesus’, ‘they will get angry’, ‘I will say the wrong thing and mess it up’ etc. These are just some of the things I wrestle with when I have the opportunity to tell someone about the heart of being a Christian. This guy talks about other reasons why we may hesitate in telling people about Jesus:

The Gospel

The word gospel means “good news”.

To understand why it is good news we need to know what the bad news is.

Despite how “good” or “bad”  we think we are, we have all sinned, and the punishment for sin is death and separation from God.

In order to have access to God now and have eternal life, that sin must be removed.

The gospel involves Jesus Christ’s death on the cross as the sin offering to fulfill the law in the Old Testament. Animal sacrifices were offered year after year as a reminder of sin and a symbol of the future sacrifice of Jesus.

The gospel also involves the resurrection of Jesus on the third day. Jesus conquered sin and death. We can share in this victory.

Once you understand the good news and put your faith in what Jesus has done for you, you naturally want to tell other people that it is good news for them too. That is why people are still talking about the death and resurrection of Jesus over 2000 years later.


Why is it good news?

Taken from: What is the gospel? – Got Questions

The gospel is the good news that God loves the world enough to give His only Son to die for our sin (John 3:16). The gospel is good news because our salvation and eternal life and home in heaven are guaranteed through Christ (John 14:1–4). “He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3–4).

The gospel is good news when we understand that we do not (and cannot) earn our salvation; the work of redemption and justification is complete, having been finished on the cross (John 19:30). Jesus is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2). The gospel is the good news that we, who were once enemies of God, have been reconciled by the blood of Christ and adopted into the family of God (Romans 5:10; John 1:12). “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). The gospel is the good news that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

To reject the gospel is to embrace the bad news. Condemnation before God is the result of a lack of faith in the Son of God, God’s only provision for salvation. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:17–18). God has given a doomed world good news. Why would anyone reject the gospel?

The Gospel in 4 minutes – Spoken Word

2 thoughts on “The banner on the bus says…”

  1. I enjoyed reading your post. At first I reacted to the Allah bus advert like a raging bull. But I was quickly able to see why they were doing it. It hopefully will help with Islamaphobia in our country .

    The advert certainly mirrored a bad reaction in me which definately needs addressing.

    Best wishes

    1. Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for your comment 🙂 I felt a similar reaction at first. I have a heart for the gospel and this advert is a reminder that I cannot keep silent about Jesus because as Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said ‘Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.’

      Every blessing,

      Ruth 🙂

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