Monday, January 31, 2005

An Unmarketable Message

One of our readings yesterday was 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 where Paul states that the Gospel message is ridiculous (foolishness) to all but those who are being saved. I am afraid that too often well-intentioned Christians have tried to remove the absurdity of the message of the cross in order to better spread the Gospel. In other words, Paul obviously knew nothing about marketing. You can't sell foolishness, for goodness sake! You have to find a way to show how Christ is what they are looking for. I agree . . . we can show that Christ is what they are looking for if they are on the right journey.

Too many people want a god who will satisfy their desires . . . but what we need is for God to accompany us through life. The good news of the Kingdom of God is that such a life is freely available through Christ. This is not about having our desires met, but living in God's Kingdom under his gracious direction. Everything is redefined, even our desires. Our will becomes His Will. Unfortunately, that is not what many are looking for.

Here and now eternal life is enjoyed by anyone who enters the divine life even though we find ourselves still burdened by our earthly existence. We recognize that beyond this life there is a fuller participation where what is promised and experienced in part, will be our all in all.

As we talk about the pitfalls of trying to market Christianity (does God really need a public relations consultant?) the most obvious is the gap between what people want and Who God is. Christian faith cannot be tailored to speak to a target audience - reshaped and packaged to appeal to their desires. Another name for the results of such attempts is 'heresy.'

We all know how some promise blessings in abundance, health and wealth, to all who follow Jesus faithfully. I cannot decry the crass salesmanship of those endeavors and turn around and choose a less blatant form - but one which is essentially based on appealing to human appetites rather than trusting in the Spirit's work. Unless we understand Paul's observation that the message of Christ is foolishness, we will try and make it palatable.

Let's face it . . . someone not oriented by the Spirit's working to seek God will find our message of following a crucified Savior into suffering for the sake of the world is an insane goal. The world will accept a savior who suffered so they don't have to suffer, but the world rejects a call to submission, selflessness, and suffering. No one in the flesh follows Jesus into his love - dying to self for others.

But we do not lose hope, though our message is unappealing and unmarketable. To those being saved such a message is the power of God. That is what Paul believed . . . and what we know by grace.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Somehow this reminded me of a song written by Sammy Ward called My Passion. As he describes his walk with God as his passion he uses the phrase, "my struggle is not to better my life, its uniting with its source." Hard to market the idea of being united to the source of life.