Marketing (unabridged)

Brussels, Grand Place by Gillham

Brussels, Grand Place by Gillham

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.

So we are Believers, followers of Christ. We have a new identity in Him. In particular, we are set apart to God, righteous, triumphant…and about 300 other character qualities as well…because we are in Christ. He is our life. The Holy Spirit is our resource to exemplify Christ through us. This is what we have!

Here is how you keep it: Your relationship with God is as secure as Jesus’ relationship is with God. Your ability to demonstrate Christ’s life is empowered through the Holy Spirit to point you—and others—to God.

In short, you rest in who you are and who He is while actively—every moment—depending upon Him to live through you. So, you don’t keep anything. God keeps you!

We hear a great deal about what we have to do right now in order to gain something from God. Pressure. Fear. Baloney! God has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pt. 1:3). This is our state of being as followers of Jesus.

As to the marketer’s question: “How do you keep it?” What is yours in Christ is not dependent upon your ability to keep it! It is the free gift of God, sealed by His pledge, sworn to by His name, and held in His hands through the finished work of Jesus, not only now, but for all eternity.

Bask in what Father has given you as one of His. Encourage yourself and others with these words. Speak often of these things. Trust Christ to live through you with all you possess.

If you do these things, you will prove to be a dandy marketer. Or in biblical terminology, a great witness for the One who is your life.