Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Brand Jesus

These days in marketing and sales circles there is more talk than ever about “Brand Awareness”. What image or impression does you logo, trademark, or product carry and what can you do to nurture and protect it. Most celebrities are very aware that they themselves are a brand. Aston Kutcher conveys a very different image and cache than Bill Cosby. These impressions are carefully cultivated and they fiercely protect the image they want to maintain.

When a brand fails the results are dangerous and potentially long lasting. Usually a brand fails when the desired public image fails to meet up with the private reality. Safe, reliable Toyota has cars that accelerate uncontrollably. Squeaky clean Tiger Woods has a string of torrid affairs.

The original propose of a brand was to show ownership. Animals and possessions had the owners mark literally burnt into them so there was no questions about who they belonged to.

As Christians we carry a brand. We are stamped with the image of Christ...we are brand JESUS. What should it mean for us as carriers of this brand? What does that look like and more importantly what should that look like? For me the “what should it look like question” is answered with words like LOVE, GRACE, JOY and PASSION. The reality of “what does it look like” is much more troubling. In reality our human weaknesses and failings are seen all too often and His love, grace joy and passion are hidden. Brand JESUS is often represented loudly by people who show hate, judgment, bigotry and intolerance. Brand JESUS is co-opted by those with with political agendas who need Christians to support their cause. Brand JESUS is confused, distracted and divided amongst itself.

I humbly submit the following for those of who make up brand JESUS.

Love is everything.

We must first start by loving other Christians. Christ himself told us “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

We must love those we disagree with. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:43-44

Love your spouse. Paul tells husbands this in two separate passages. In Ephesians 5:28-29 he says, In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church. and in  Colossians 3:19 he says Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Paul sums up the need to love this way in Romans 13:8-10 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

JESUS himself said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

The reality is that we live in a fallen world and there is a Deceiver prowling and devouring all he can. He is on a mass smear campaign to dilute and destroy brand JESUS. It is our mandate to fight him one heart and soul at a time. Our branding campaign is truly a grass roots movement. To be effective it cannot happen from top down but must be heart out. It is should be viral in nature spread friend to friend and neighbor to neighbor and its mantra is LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

In With The Smokers

Note - The following was written by a friend of mine and I thought it was worth sharing. - Thanks for keeping me sharp Stephen D.

- Dan

At Bunker’s funeral, I found myself sandwiched between two men who smelled strongly of smoke. As I listened to the stories about Bunker, his family was confident that he was in Heaven and that they would be reunited some day.

Heaven or Hell? Either one or the other is our destiny after death. One is delightful “Paradise” and the other insufferable fire and smoke.

I pondered what funerals would be like if those heading for Heaven sat on one side of the isle, like in weddings, and those heading to Hell sat on the other side? One side would be pleasantly perfumed while the other would carry a heavy stench of smoke from the pits of Hell.

As one enters the church, there may be a sign that reads:

“Non-smokers please sit on the left.

Smokers please sit on the right.

If you’re not sure, sit on the right.”

It would be curious to watch people determine where to sit.

My itchy nose and eyes brought me back to reality and to another question. Would I chose to sit in with the smokers if I knew they were smokers - or thieves, gossips, slanderers, liars, adulterers, druggies… Would I choose to be uncomfortable with being in the midst of the self-destructive habits of others so that a few may discover God’s forgiveness and freedom? Do I have compassion for those who stink of smoke? Or do I simple sit with my other pleasantly perfumed brothers and not even notice those who are lost?

PS – I am using the terms “smokers and non-smokers” as allegories. So if you smoke tobacco, know that I am not labeling you a smoker heading to Hell. If you are offended, then I suspect the Spirit is putting his divine finger on something else going on in your life.