Honor Christ and let him be the Lord of your life. Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope.
-1 Peter 3:15
I don't know if you watched the Super Bowl on Sunday. Many didn't, evidenced by the lowest ratings in 13 years. The game wasn't much to write home about, so if you missed it, you didn't miss much (except watching Tom Brady prove again how frustratingly dominant he is).
The one thing you did miss, however, was a bit of marketing genius by Reddit, an online messaging board that hosts conversations about anything you can imagine. A simple 30 second spot during the big game costs over 5 million dollars. Most of those commercials come and go, making people laugh a moment and then get back to their chips and guacamole. But in the middle of what looked like a car commercial, the broadcast fizzed out and for 5 seconds, the Reddit logo and a wordy written message appeared that took just a little too long to read. And then, just like that, it was gone.
It was a strange moment. It came and went so fast. We couldn't read it all. We weren't positive it was even supposed to happen. It felt like the super bowl broadcast had been hacked! So we and all the other viewers sat there, deciding if we'd eat our chips and move on, or if we had to learn more about what just happened. And of course with technology, people could pause, Tivo, rewind, or google their way to answers.
And they did. The conversation took off online, and people needed to know more. They wanted to know the message that was on their screen, and the they wanted to know the story behind the ad. Those five seconds created enough curiosity for millions of people to want to seek answers. And all of a sudden hoards of people were talking about Reddit.
A fraction of the budget of a normal ad, with an exponentially larger impact. Absolute brilliance.
Obviously, this made me think a lot about the way we live our lives and how we represent Jesus...
Our "marketing" has become increasingly irrelevant to many people that encounter Christianity. None of us are perfect, but there's a lot of clear hypocrisy out there when it comes to Christians not exhibiting the sort of priorities Jesus seemed to care about. Simply put, most Christians don't differ much from anyone else. Plenty of days that's true of me too, unfortunately. So people outside of faith simply tune us out.
Yet consider the deep DNA that Christ-followers have been given. We've been made new into something completely surprising, beautiful, and interesting. We've been freed from the need to be impressive, and welcomed into a community of grace, humility, and life. Old identities are gone and the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love (Paul said that). We have faith that Jesus is at work in us and our world... and we love well as a result of it.
Now, that's all just Christian jargon until it's acted on. Then and only then, real love becomes so interesting, so curious, so wonderful, that people cannot help but want to move toward it. If we learn the love that Jesus had-- love that transcends the boundaries that the rest of the world stays inside of-- then we will spark all sorts of wonderful curiosity.
Jesus told us the core expression of discipleship was this: being "known by our love" (Jn 13:35). This is the most low budget, brilliant marketing tool that God could ever come up with. It doesn't require big budgets or fancy programs. It doesn't require expert actors or background soundtracks that stir the emotions. It trusts that if the people of Jesus live the humble values of God's kingdom, others will seek them out and eventually want to buy in to movement. How beautiful is that? And how brilliant?
Showing genuine care for people who are not like you economically, religiously, racially, or nationally.... that makes people curious.
Giving and forgiving... that makes people curious.
Not needing money or perfect circumstances to live with joy and meaning... that makes people curious.
They will want to know more of the story that forms us.
So our role, then, is to pass through each others' lives-- sometimes for years, sometimes only a few seconds-- offering a simple message of genuine love in the name of Jesus. It's not about bringing attention to us. We simply help people find their place with us in God's kingdom. Our words and actions of everyday love make others want to take a closer look.
Because like Reddit, if you make people curious, they'll seek out the whole message. Even a few seconds can make a huge difference. How will you make people curious as you travel with Jesus?
Jesus, open my eyes to the little moments around me today to invite people toward your love.