A few years ago the radio host, Jeff Parsons, of WJBQ, posted an editorial on the radio station’s website. This Portland, Maine, disc jockey stated that something needs to be done about the city’s Time and Temperature Sign. This sign is one of the old-style marquee types, using incandescent light bulbs to form numbers and letters against a black backdrop.
According to Parsons, it’s become a landmark to Portland, having stood on top of a 14-story building for the last 50 years. Parsons admits that the sign was fully restored back in 1992. But it used the same old technology – incandescent light bulbs.
And now so many of those light bulbs are burned out that pedestrians can barely read its messages. He stated that he misread a recent message on the sign from the American Lung Association. The message was – LUNG FRCE (i.e. “Lung Force”), which he read as LONG FACE. And, in his editorial, Parsons pleaded with the city to replace this old sign with a new LED marquee.
Peace In Imperfection
I know, I know. This is hardly a news-worthy story. But the image of that sign – with so many of its lights burned out, distorting its messages, reminded me of an old theological question. It’s the problem of evil in our world. Despite the undeniable order and complexity we witness in creation, many cite its imperfections as proof that a loving and perfect God could not have created it. “Why are children born deformed and such hostility exist in the animal kingdom? Why have so many creatures become extinct – if a loving and good God is behind all living things?” And if we add the moral evils that exist in the world – murder, war, injustice – then, “How can there be a loving and just God to allow all this evil?”
But do chaos, imperfection, and evil characterize creation, or are they merely blemishes upon it? True, there are murders and injustices in the world. But they do not characterize society. Otherwise, there would be no society. Humanity would simply kill itself off. Rather, love and cooperation characterize society. In nearly every home, husbands and wives cooperate to care for each other and their children. If this is not true, then why does a new generation arise every 18 years or so? The same is true throughout the animal kingdom. If life is all about “survival of the fittest,” then why is there so much nurturing from parents to offspring? This nurturing and care exists everywhere in nature. Even many insects and reptiles nurture their young.
True there are deformities in children and offspring, but they are the exception and not the rule. True there always seems to be a war somewhere on our planet. But war is truly the exception to the steady state of peace throughout most of the planet. Only on rare occasions – during WWI and WWII – was most of the world engulfed in war. And even then there were many places – actually, most places – that were not battlefields. Peace and good health characterize humanity.
It’s just like the Time and Temperature sign in Portland. Yes, some of its lights are burned out, but not all of them. It’s still fully functional. It has its imperfections, but it’s still able to display time and temperature. Yes, these burned out bulbs sometimes send us the wrong message. Yet, no matter how many of its bulbs are burned out, that doesn’t mean there’s not a manufacturer behind its creation. It doesn’t mean that’s how it was originally made. Once the sign was new and all its lights shone brightly. Time, wear and tear, and the elements have simply taken their toll and it’s not in its original form.
It’s the same with humanity and creation. We are not in our original form. We have corrupted ourselves and our way by our sin. And with sin came death. “…Through one man (and one woman) sin came into the world and death through sin, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). When our original parents, Adam and Eve, rebelled against God’s single prohibition, their relationship with God was broken and they died spiritually (Genesis 3). And since their own nature was corrupted by sin, it spread to all their offspring. Therefore, we all have a fallen and damaged nature.
There is also God’s curse upon humanity and creation. In judgment, God cursed the earth for man’s sake and made the natural process of childbirth a painful experience. Now the earth yields thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:16-19). The very nature of animals has become hostile. Yes, all of creation has been blemished by humanity’s sin and God’s curse upon it.
But sin and the curse have not destroyed them. Complexity and order still characterize creation. Love and good still characterize humanity. And they all come from a loving, wise, and powerful creator.
Yet that’s not the end of the story. The apostles and prophets of old foresaw a day when God would make a New Heaven and a New Earth (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). All of creation will cease to writhe in the pangs of childbirth and be delivered from its bondage to decay (Romans 8:18-15). It will share in the resurrection that Jesus Christ began and in which believers will participate.
Then, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
“The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6-9).
God will restore both humanity and creation to what He originally intended for them, when He makes all things new.
Dear Father in heaven, though we must deal with the “old broken sign” of sin-corrupted humanity and creation, help me to remain faithful to You and to follow Christ all the days of my earthly sojourn. Help me to focus on the New Heaven and the New Earth that is to come, so that I may partake of its blessings. Amen.
(Information from: https://wjbq.com/portlands-time-and-temperature-sign-is-starting-to-lose-its-message/)