"JOHN 3:16" reads the sign raised high by the rainbow-colored, afro wig-wearing man who uses televised sporting events to promote Jesus. Or, you've seen people carrying signs "REPENT" and handing out leaflets during major events that attract thousands of people, who typically are along for a good time – not a sales pitch, of any kind. Sometimes, you'll see well-meaning people standing on busy street corners holding signs about "KNOW JESUS, KNOW PEACE. NO JESUS. NO PEACE" and shouting, "Jesus loves you!"
Whenever I see people marketing Jesus like this, I just want to come up to ask them about their personal connection with their next door neighbors, or children, or spouses, other family and estranged relatives. Specifically, have they reached them in a meaningful way for Jesus? Are they living a life that attracts others to God, or repels them?
For every person who may have responded to these sign-holding, awkwardly-timed evangelists, there are thousands of others who immediately think Christians are weird. And, its human nature to draw the conclusion that if you were to become a Christian through one of these marketers, then you would think that you would also have to show up at events carrying signs. No thanks.
While I appreciate the heart to reach others with God's love, His love is not what people sense. There is no relationship connection or context to support that premise. Not to mention, there is no dialogue, only a diatribe. I wish they would step back and ask, "Am I doing more harm than good?" Scary Question.
God's advertising plan works from the inside out. He asks us to love Him and love others personally, not impersonally through signs, bumper stickers, and confrontational Facebook posts. When we do that, our heart, minds and lives become transformed. The inward faith becomes visible. The intangible faith becomes tangible, because you can see and feel the difference. People with the love of God in their hearts have peace, which translates into an internal confidence – which is attractive.
In other words, God wants us to be the brand, not pimp Jesus with a sign or bumper sticker. We are ambassadors, not door-to-door salesmen. We are a natural, well-placed aroma people can smell and we pass the sniff test.
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." 2 Cor. 2:14-15
Some Questions We Need to Ask Ourselves
1. Get In – What's First In Your Life?
God's man will put God first, followed by a close second, his family. Jesus said the most important commandment is to love God, and love others. In this world of 7 billion people, the ones that matter most are family. Our marketing efforts have to start with putting God first in our lives and loving our spouses, children and relatives. They are our most important mission field. The first tangible sign of faith is that you have put God and your family first will be finding, attending and getting involved in a Bible-based church community.
2. Get Healthy – What's Important to Your Life?
Examine your time, money and relationships and you will see what's most important. For God's man, your time will be prioritized around knowing God, investing in yourself, family and God's marketing plan. And the quality of your relationships and communication will show evidence of your faith. The next tangible sign of your faith is you will have a small group of Christian men to meet with and learn together about God's plan for your lives.
3. Get Strong – Can Others Feel Your Faith?
As you put God and family first, and focus on what's important, others will feel the difference. Angry outbursts will be tempered with grace and truth. Conflicts will be reconciled. Fear will be replaced with peace. Despair will disappear as hope appears. Although faith is invisible, it will be felt. The next tangible sign of your faith is you will be spending more time reading the Bible, and praying. And, people outside of your family circles will feel the love that resides in your heart, nurtured by a desire to know God.
4. Get Going – Can Others See Your Faith?
When love is overflowing in your life, you won't be able to coop it up inside. Your faith will take flight in action, opening your arms to help others or opening your home to serve others. No need to carry a big sign at the next big game, because you'll be too busy connecting with others, or lending a helping hand. You will become the brand and an ambassador of love. Too often, new Christians eagerly pole vault to this step, but skipping ahead is what makes Christians appear weird.
Kenny Luck is the founder of Every Man Ministries and the men's pastor at Saddleback Church. His 20th book – SLEEPING GIANT: No Movement of God without Men of God - is a blueprint for men's ministries, and was released through B&H Publishing. Watch and read more of Kenny's teaching here at EveryManMinistries.com. EXPLORE: "Media Vault" for related resources. Follow Every Man Ministries now on Facebook, Twitter (@everymm,) and YouTube.