The title of this entry may be a bit misleading. It is just to say that it's after Christmas and I've been reflecting on some things today.
There is a great article in the current issue of Christianity Today by Tyler Wigg-Stevenson. The title well describes the point he is making: "Jesus is NOT a brand." The question that he is trying to answer for his readers is this: What is the difference between an evangelism within a consumeristic society that is truly Christ-centered vs one driven by individualistic market interests.
That's a good question.
It is interesting to note how many of us have allowed ourselves to be identified by what brands we prefer. Some men are Chevy men, others Ford. Some prefer Mac, others PC's. If you don't believe that, watch one of the current YouTube videos titled, "Mac vs. PC" and see which one you find yourself rooting for.
The implications for this in terms of how one receives the gospel, or perceives the demands of the gospel are not insignificant. The spiritual consumer will approach the church with the same narcissism they bring to other brands. Wigg-Stevenson postulates the spiritual consumers thought process as Christianity (the consumer version) is contemplated: "What am I expressing about myself if I buy Brand Jesus? How will Christianity fulfill my vision for me?" He continues, "The theological implication: I belong to myself. I am my own project, my own product to do with as I will. This is an enacted rejection of the honor due to God as Creator. On a psycho-spiritual level, too, this individualism sets up a sort of endless adolescence. The awkward talk of figuring out who we are--once restricted to teen years and midlife crises--becomes a lifelong endeavor."
That's why our evangelism can't be a presentation of the gospel that simply says, "Hey, look at all you get with Jesus...eternal life...peace...a sense of community with others like you...etc." Rather, it has to demand an ongoing and enacted recognition, beginning with repentance, that we belong truly to God.
We must bring into view the Lordship of Christ, the sufficiency of Christ and the Supremacy of Christ. After all, this is the only way that we remain true to the gospel that liberates, provides real self-identity, and allows us to see all other sorts of people as one of us in a unified gospel family, not one that is dissected according to sub-brand level distinctions such as those we often see in the church today where the gospel is being offered in a consumeristic fashion. In that environment people favor a church with donuts over one without, or a certain brand of music over and against another. These are brand identities that cloud the gospel indeed.