An unattractive sales pitch or not?
Promotional strategies generally highlight the benefits of something to others. It might be at a personal level such as the all alluring power of some men’s cologne or ladies’ perfume. Or how popular certain clothes or car or anything else someone is promoting makes you feel. If it makes you feel good, makes you look good and builds your confidence or wins friends the promotion is likely to be successful. Conversely, if the product being promoted brings anything but personal or corporate satisfaction it is unlikely to gain any level of sustained or significant popularity.
So, when Jesus was gathering his band of disciples together and teaching on the hillsides, sea shores and so on. Did he get the strategy wrong?
Matthew 5:11 records the words of Jesus as he teaches his disciples, 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Not a great sales pitch for a fledgling movement if you ask me. Even the following verse offers little in terms of immediate sense of benefit or worth as it still ends with persecution and rejection being promoted as your lot in life.12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:3-10 gives a general description of the benefits of being a disciple of Jesus. In the verses that follow through to verse 16 the character of the discipleship and the disciple is revealed. In these 13-16 Jesus explains who we are, 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Despite the somewhat negative aspect of the relationship the end result of the sales pitch goes something like this. You are light in darkness that introduces others to God. Imagine, partnering with God by His invitation, to invite others to know Him and be reconciled to Him. Sounds like a good bargain to me. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” In Colossians 1:27 Paul writes, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
“Christ in us” doesn’t equate to a trouble free life. But it defines us, shapes us, transforms us and underpins our eternal hope. In the meantime we are bearers of Good News that offers life and hope eternal to a world that is broken and lost. In the midst of life and all its trials I encourage you to echo the words of the apostle Paul, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Blessings, Pastor Stewart.