The St Matthew's billboard and why it kept me awake at 2am

Let's be clear. For those of you who don't me I am very pro vaccination and I've been horrified by some of the misinformation that's been coming through our churches. It's great that churches are getting involved in the covid response communications and I welcome it. 

I used to be the communications manager for Auckland Regional Public Health and went on to Ogilvy in Sydney. So you could say I know my way around a public health billboard. I'm also a Christian and a daily Bible reader which is why I was awake at 2am thinking about the St Matthew's new campaign messaging. 

"Give God a hand"

My knee jerk response is "God doesn't need a hand, He's God". Then I thought maybe I was missing the point and it's got something to do with praise- Give God a clap, a shout of praise....no?

Because if the core of the message is that in someway, God needs our help or is making an appeal through his lack of sovereignty in a pandemic, well then we're all in trouble. 

Let's look at some Scriptures. The key ones for me are Isaiah 59:1 "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear" and Numbers 11:23 "The Lord answered Moses, is the Lord's arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you."  People questioning whether God is sovereign still over a troubling situation is very common in the Bible (read the Book of Job) and in all cases it is made clear that God is in fact, God. 

So then I thought of the lovely imagery around God holding our hand (Isaiah 41:13; Psalm 63:8) and thought maybe this is what the campaign is getting at. Does God uphold us by his hand? Yes. Does he need a hand? No. So I don't think that's it. 

We can also pivot to some theology around co-labouring with Christ which may be getting warmer to the true character of God. "For we are co-workers in God's service, you are God's field, God's building (1 Corinthians 3:9). Partnering and being yoked together with Christ is very Biblical but it's also very clear that He is the creator (the potter, the builder, the field owner) and we are the clay. 

I'm sure these discussions have been had at St Matthew's and maybe that's the point but as ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) it's important we get the key messages right. God isn't needy or in need of anything and I want everyone to know that at these challenging times. Take care. 

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