Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Have I got a deal for you!

I have come to the conclusion that Jesus was not a good salesman. At least from a business standpoint he was not. As I look at his "sales tactics" I am not impressed. I have read books, I have been to seminars, I have spent time with some of the best salesmen I have ever met and yes I have had some really good salesmen try to sell me things. And if I compare Jesus to them he falls short! What the world says is that when selling make it all about the customer. Sam Walton put it this way: "There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else."

A couple of years ago my wife and I were invited to Hilton Head Island for a "wonderful" three night, four day vacation for an "incredible" price. The only catch was that we would have to spend about one hour learning about incredible vacation opportunities for our family! We agreed and showed up at the appointed time for our session. From the moment we walked into the facility it was all about us. We were the king and queen. Can we get you a drink? Would you like some pop corn? How has your stay been? You look like you've already gotten a nice tan! Don't you just love the island? And on and on. I will spare you the details but about two hours later we finally got out of there without buying anything. However, the salesman did such a good job of selling, that as we drove away we began to wonder if we did the right thing by not buying. Maybe it was a great investment for the family. Maybe we did make a big mistake by not getting in on this deal. Maybe we are just throwing our money away when we rent a house or condo for a week. 

Now compare this to Jesus' selling technique:
Luke 9: 57, 582 -  57As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 
Hmmm! You will probably be homeless if you follow me. Do you think Jesus should have tried to come up with a positive spin on this? What about the benefits of following Him? Are there no frequent traveler miles? Are there no free stays at the Jerusalem Inn after you pay for five? Surely you have a descent tent and a couple of comfy cots that we can haul on the back of a mule and set up outside the city. Maybe it gets better later on.
Luke 14:25-27 -  25Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
O....K....You must hate your mother and father if you want to follow me! Apparently Jesus missed the conference on church growth. I thought we were supposed to remove the obstacles and use seeker sensitive language making it easy for the world to follow Him. If Jesus keeps employing this tactic he probably will not get more than a dozen guys to follow Him. Let's try this one more time:
John 21: 18, 19  - 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"
Wow, Jesus tells Peter how he is going to die, by crucifixion, and then he says "Follow Me!" Wait a minute, shouldn't he be selling the benefits and maybe keeping the bad stuff to himself. Maybe he should have said Follow Me and you will get to heal people and walk on water, and have your name known throughout the known world. You will be famous! Surely this would have been a better sales and recruiting tactic. 

Needless to say my evaluation is said with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Christ did not want people to follow him because it was cool or because it was easy. Christ summed it up this way:
Luke 14: 28-33 -  28"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'  31"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
We must be made aware of the costs associated with following Him. It is not cheap, it will cost us everything and it is not going to be easy, it will be a daily battle with the world. However, Christ does tell us it will be worth it in the end.
II Corinthians 4: 16-18  -  16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Whether His sales pitch is lacking or not, I challenge each one of us to count the cost and decide for ourselves if we are going to truly follow Christ. 

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