When you walk through the mall or parts of New York City, vendors come at you with their wares, annoying you with the usefulness or cheapness of the product. It is so annoying because it arouses in you this attitude; if I needed what you were selling, then I would come to you. So, stop being so pushy. When I walk by your news-stand, I will stop if I want to stop. Don’t try and stop me and sell to me.
That attitude oftentimes is the same attitude that a nonreligious person has toward the church or any other organization with a religious affiliation. Thanks but no thanks, and if that answer is not good enough to keep you from following me down the street, then allow me to kindly tell you to back off.
I’ve heard at least a couple of reasons why people quit calling themselves Christians. Instead, many prefer to say that they are “followers of Christ.” The rationale behind saying something like that is that many people look at the church from the outside and see a huge brand called Christianity. Those that are not religious hear the terms church and God and shrivel up into a shell because those terms can be polarizing and chaotic. So, the “follower of Christ” attempts to reach out to the unchurched by instigating a new tone. They try to escape the church-y language and speak to a generation that cannot stand the church because it comes across or seems like a sales presentation.
To stop calling yourself a Christian and therefore avoid the stigma that follows the term makes a lot of sense. In a lot of ways, however, doing so looks more like the business that is out of touch with a certain demographic. They send out the feelers and organize a focus group in which they ask the questions, “What can we do to improve our service?” Domino’s launched an ad campaign that portrays this same approach. The realized that customers were no longer satisfied with the product. So, they asked the questions that led to the answers that they needed to listen to in order to improve the product. Calling yourself a “follower of Christ” is a very similar type of rebranding. It is an attempt to make the product better.
I’m going to provide another, very different reason to stop posting the label “Christian” across our chests. The reason is very simple. Acts 11: 26 reveals something very key. It is the first time the term Christian is used. The interesting thing about its use, though, is that the term came from the outside looking in. They were “first called Christians at Antioch.” Paul and Barnabas did not meet with the church there and discuss what they should call themselves. Instead, people from the outside looking in noticed that these people were living so much like Christ that they started calling them by the name.
This notion brings to mind the hymn “They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love.” Can we, as Christians, say that today? Do people from outside the church look at what we do and say, “Something about the way they love is different.” Do we love as Christ loved? See, Christians should not be selling anything. A genuine man or woman of faith has love. That love does not advertise or speak. It acts. It offers rather than sells. The offer, though, is not like the free samples at the supermarket. Those samples are free only because there is a hope that you will like what you taste so much that you buy the product. Love is no product. Christianity is not a brand.
Love is much more different than something that fills your stomach or satisfies a desire. An advertisement exists to sell something that fills the stomach or satisfies a desire. Love is deeper. The need for it is difficult to explain as something more than a simple desire that needs to be fulfilled. That’s why it must be lived out so as to demonstrate the impact love has.
Watch this video:
Love is not a product to be sold. I have no words to explain it, but love is not like pizza. Rebranding (for lack of a better word) is not changing the freshness of the toppings or the taste of the crust. In a world of products and constant advertisements, understand that love is something more.