We fail to realize that, like it or not, Jesus is a product that we are selling. I know, I know, we don’t like this terminology. It cheapens what Jesus is really about. But regardless of whether we see it this way as insiders or not, this is how others see us.
Very recently, at my place of employment, we talked about the importance of good customer service and how this aspect in particular is critical to the success of our company. The philosophy is that we will retain our customers by treating them well and we’ll gain new customers because our well-served current customers will spread the word about us. Interestingly, there wasn’t a lot of focus placed on the quality of the product. In fact, its almost assumed that a significant part of the quality of the product is not found in the product itself, but in those who are representing it.
I’ve had several conversations recently talking with other Christians about the importance of us representing Christ well with our lives and not just our words and almost universally there is a reaction against this concept. I get it. We don’t want to believe that we will be held responsible for whether or not someone makes a decision for Jesus Christ. Each will be held accountable, we say.
We fail to realize that whether we want it to be true or not, Jesus is a product that we are selling.
I know, I know, we don’t like this terminology. It cheapens what Jesus is really about. But regardless of whether we see it this way as insiders or not, this is how others see us. Think about it, unless you’ve experienced the overwhelming presence of the love of God, all you have to judge the product of Jesus on are those people who call themselves his followers. If their lives are such so that it turns people off, they will also be turned off to Jesus. To believe anything otherwise is simple naïveté and wishful thinking.
This doesn’t mean that we have to go and treat Jesus like a product to be sold for profit. We know that Jesus is far more than that. But it does mean that we are mindful of whether our lives, and not just our words, are representing Him well. You see, its possible to glorify God with our lips while our hearts and lives are far from Him. In fact, it’s not only possible, it is easy. And as a wise man once said, “If its easy, its wrong.” Being a good representation of Jesus does not require perfect living, but it does require living well.
The question then becomes, “How do we represent Jesus well?”. Here are some ideas:
Learn to Live Authentically
There is an unbelievable, unspoken pressure upon Christians to act more Christian than they really are. As a result, we put on these masks of holiness through words and performances of holiness. Often times, this takes the form of being very outspoken against everything that is not explicitly Christian, vehemently so … condemningly so. If we want to represent Jesus well, a good place to start is by embracing the freedom of authenticity. Part of the beauty of grace is that it doesn’t require us to perform. Outsiders, by the way, love authenticity. Why? Because they can identify. People understand that Christians are humans and that we make mistakes, they just get annoyed when we pretend its not true.
Judge Less and Love More
I suspect that it is because we believe we have the truth that causes us to become extremely prideful, fooling ourselves into thinking that we’ve arrived., we’ve cornered the truth. From this pedestal, we believe we’re given authority to judge everyone who either disagrees with us or doesn’t live up to our expectations. We’ve fooled ourselves into believing that God is most pleased when we stand up for truth and tell people when they’re wrong. Such behavior was routinely condemned by Jesus. Instead, the model we’ve been given is one of relentless love. Truth divorced from love is fruitless. But love never returns void.
Be Loud About What You’re For
It is undeniable that the voice of Christianity has become characterized by speaking (yelling?) to those things it is against. From abortion, to homosexual marriage, to the Democratic party we’re finding that these are the things Christianity is becoming known, and subsequently despised, for. As a result, it seems that many, Christians included, have no clue what Jesus’ followers are actually for. We have not been commissioned to be against sin so much as we have to be for God and his Kingdom and if we’re busy about that, we won’t have much time to stop and say what we’re against.
Walk Your Talk
Somehow, many of us have become disillusioned to the fact that our words often mean very little and our actions very much. It is as if we really do think that Jesus’ name is magic and so long as we’re talking about him, others will fail to realize whether we actually believe what we say. Not so. Truth be told, most don’t put much stock into our talk until after they’ve seen our walk. Actually, we might do well to talk less and walk more. If you’re really up for a challenge, I’d even suggest to stop talking altogether for a while and focus on just being like Christ.
Once we start representing Jesus well, it really is not hard to get people to buy in. Jesus sells Himself—not by promising instant satisfaction or making life easier—but by promising us real life, the only life worth living. Plus, it only costs us our lives.