When was the last time you took inventory of all that is yours in Christ Jesus?
I read a blogger’s riff on marketing a few days ago. He noted, “Marketers spend too much time trying to get people to leap over the hurdle of ‘buy this, right now’ and not enough on ‘it’s yours, here’s how you keep it.’”
Marketing—selling, convincing, etc.—is often shied away from in Christian circles. We feel like it is less than spiritual. But the reality is, the Scriptures exhort us to be marketers. Not in those words, but Matthew exhorts, Go and make disciples (28:19). Peter says, always be ready to give account for the hope you have (1 Pt. 3:15). Acts says we are destined to be witnesses on behalf of Christ (1:8). Paul writes, you are an aroma of Christ (2 Cor. 2:14).
These are forms of marketing, which brings me back to the blog I was reading.
There are any number of ways to market the message of Christ. In spiritual terminology, we are evangelists, disciple-makers, teachers, preachers, elders, deacons, and servants. But what are we convincing people to do?
The approach of “buy this, right now” is pressured and fearful. It leaves little room for interaction and negotiation. In the Christian world, this form of marketing, i.e., evangelism, is often presented, “Wouldn’t you like to go to heaven when you die” (and thus escape hell)? Or, “Wouldn’t you like to have your sins forgiven?”
Who wouldn’t want both of these payouts? Right now?
There is theological truth in each question, but the marketing falls woefully short. Granted, these questions address legitimate concerns: winding up in hell and not being forgiven. But each fails to adequately capture people’s real problem, their problem from God’s point of view.
If location is our real problem, then heaven will remedy that situation. If sinning is our major problem, then forgiveness will alleviate the tension. Even a deathbed confession will get a person through the pearly gates, after all…but how shortsighted, not only in this life, but in terms of God’s opinion.
A lost man’s condition is merely demonstrated with poor performance, but it is his lost condition that earns him hell, not his failure to behave correctly. In other words, being separated from Christ—according to Romans 5:12 ff—is a matter of being born a descendant of Adam and thus having the wrong lineage. Being saved, in the words of Jesus to Nicodemus in John 3, is about getting a different heritage; literally, being “born again from above.”
In other words, heaven is a benefit, not the goal. If we sell heaven, we sell people something that won’t do them any good right now. If we sell people life in Christ, then they get life now and heaven thrown in.
And this is all well and good, but the other part of the marketing question is, how do you keep it? That's next.