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Marketability

  

There is a very good interview with Tim Keller about several subjects in Christianity and religion in general. I wanted to focus on just one here: marketability.

You reject marketing apologetics like, “Christianity is better than the alternatives, so choose Christianity.” Why?

Marketing is about felt needs. You find the need and then you say Christianity will meet that need. You have to adapt to people’s questions. And if people are asking a question, you want to show how Jesus is the answer. But at a certain point, you have to go past their question to the other things that Christianity says. Otherwise you’re just scratching where they itch. So marketing is showing how Christianity meets the need, and I think the gospel is showing how Christianity is the truth.

C. S. Lewis says somewhere not to believe in Christianity because it’s relevant or exciting or personally satisfying. Believe it because it’s true. And if it’s true, it eventually will be relevant, exciting, and personally satisfying. But there will be many times when it’s not relevant, exciting, and personally satisfying. To be a Christian is going to be very, very hard. So unless you come to it simply because it’s really the truth, you really won’t live the Christian life, and you won’t get to the excitement and to the relevance and all that other stuff.

I absolutely think there is truth there.  Today lots of people are talking about being relevant and meaningful to “post-modern people”.  I don’t think there is a way that the Gospel will ever not be relevant.  If it does, its our fault for wielding it incorrectly.  This “felt need” concept is something crucial we must recognize.  Even the approach that Jesus’ death on the cross was to solve your own personal sin problem is marketing to a felt need.  Yes, it is true – but our presentation is the marketing aspect we need to be careful about.

There is no question that being like Jesus is hard.  And struggles are going to come where it isn’t fun, or an emotional high.  For example, if we present Jesus as the solution to “depression”, and being a Christian causes struggles that just reinforce the “depression”, we haven’t done God any glory.

The Gospel is about more than us personally.  Its about more than my problems, and struggles in this time.  Its about more than being a successful member of my community/church/family.  It is about God restoring His creation according to His own faithfulness.  That He won’t leave His creation in the disorder we created.  That is relevant to everyone; whether you’re an environmentalist from Seattle, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or an addict on the streets.  There is something personal for each person in the Gospel message, by design!  And there will be hardships for each in the Christian message.  Yet there is also something that is common to them all, that unites all human experience to a focal point.  God is going to do something radical in the world, get on board.

3 Responses to “Marketability”

  1. on 23 Jun 2008 at 4:28 pmSean

    The Gospel is about more than us personally. Its about more than my problems, and struggles in this time. Its about more than being a successful member of my community/church/family. It is about God restoring His creation according to His own faithfulness. That He won’t leave His creation in the disorder we created. That is relevant to everyone; whether you’re an environmentalist from Seattle, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or an addict on the streets.

    Amen…preach it brother! The gospel of the kingdom affects not just our individual hearts but the whole world because this message contains a promise about how God will make it all right. I also appreciated C.S. Lewis’ statement:

    C. S. Lewis says somewhere not to believe in Christianity because it’s relevant or exciting or personally satisfying. Believe it because it’s true. And if it’s true, it eventually will be relevant, exciting, and personally satisfying.

  2. on 04 Jul 2008 at 1:52 pmTim

    I read the story of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego recently and saw something that I had never seen before that we would do well to keep in mind: they said that God was able to deliver them, but even if He did not, they would not renounce Him.

    This is an incredible statement. Serving God is a choice, based on the evidence and not based on what we get out of it. God may never heal us, or one of our loved ones. God may never make me successful. God may never make me happy. Yet, I will still serve him.

    If God never does anything for me that I can perceive, I will still serve him. That is what truth means.

  3. on 04 Jul 2008 at 5:22 pmMark

    Yes, Tim, you’re right. And the reason we would still serve Him even though we don’t see deliverance in this life, is because He has promised to make everything right in the coming Kingdom. God’s promises are the basis for our trust in Him and decision to serve Him.

  

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