I saw an advert in my (free to play) sudoku app. It was a teaser for a game, which, if I played it, would keep me up for the next three days. At least, that is, what the ad promised. I can’t tell you, if it would hold true, for the rest of the teaser was sooo boring, that I don’t even know, if the game is suppose to be mesmerizing or scary (both might keep me up). Or the objective of the game, for that matter. It was just one of these commercials, that try to sell something hard, that will disappoint even harder. But isn’t that the goal of all advertisements? Increase the emotional value, so the product can be sold for a higher price. And in a sense, advertising is a scam. We live in a time, where we can’t escape the commercials. So much so, that they annoy most of us tremendously. We see an ad and we are instinctively aware, the product is not as good, as they want to make us believe. It can’t be. They are lying and we know it.
When Jesus left earth to return to His Heavenly Father, He gave His disciples one last command. (The others were: Love God, love your neighbor as yourself, and love each other as Christ loved you.) He gave them, what we now call the Great Commission. “Go into all the World and make disciples of all nations.” (To quote Matthew 28.) It always startled me, that at no point it calls us to convert people. Mark and Luke add preaching the Good News and John doesn’t mention it at all. We are to tell people about Jesus crucified and how great that is for us. And we shall make disciples. I know, literally evangelize means bringing the good news. But if we are honest, that is not, what we do. We love to go places, talk to total strangers about Jesus, pray with them, and leave, never to come back again. If we are really good, we have tracts, that show, how serious we are. We love, when people give their lives to Jesus. Especially, when the numbers are big. That is something to show. A number is real, hard evidence. As much, as it costs us, to talk to strangers, making disciples is way harder. Jesus invested in His twelve disciples some three years full time, before they where able to take steps on their own. (Homework: How long would it have taken, if they only met once a week for two hours?)
I can make you believe, I am someone, I am not. But not for too long. Eventually, my mask will start to crack and you will begin to see the real me. Evangelizing, as we often do it today, is short enough for me, to pretend, that I like you. But I don’t know you. How could I like you? But, in order to have you as a disciple, I must really love you. No faking, no shortcuts.
The real problem is, that we don’t believe God to be attractive enough. We have to sell him, otherwise, we think, the word won’t get out. It is funny though, that no conversation story in the New Testament starts with something like, “do you have time, to talk about God?” Paul and the others just lived their lives and did their thing. And people came. So much so, that they stoped counting. (They only guessed to begin with.) So, let’s copy them. Because, if you live with Jesus, people will come. We don’t have to scam them with false advertisement.