GOD GETS A LOGO
If you are a business or other organization, you won’t survive, let alone thrive,unless you have a marketing plan. You can’t wait for people to find out that you offer the best product or service; you have to tell them, show them, manipulate them and convince them that they must invest in what you offer. If people aren’t flocking to you, it’s not their problem; it’s your problem.
This past Saturday, I proposed that God has a marketing problem. A lot of people don’t know about God, are confused about God or are turned off by God. But rather than leaving it up to us to find out about him, God has continued to work to draw people to himself and awake them to the knowledge of his purposes and the power to live them out in our lives and in our communities. He has always taken the responsibility to market himself to the creation.
I imagine he came to a point where he said, like many companies say, "I need a visual representation of who I am and what I’m about." And so he created a logo, something that would visually sum up everything he says and does as God. Just as the golden arches communicate the essence of McDonald’s, the peacock reveals the character of NBC and the bullseye represents all that is Target, God’s logo tells us what we need to know about him in a very powerful way. In John 1 it says that God’s Word, the one that has the power to create, empower, release and restore, became a flesh-and-blood human being. In Greek, "word" is LOGOS. You see this root showing up in the name of almost every field of study: bio-logy (the study or word about life); anthropo-logy (the word about humans); theo-logy (the word about God); etc. God made his word into his Word, his Logo: Jesus. Jesus became the embodiment of God on earth.
Jesus was the visual, tangible and tactile representation of the essence of God. In John 14, Jesus told one of his followers, Philip, that when he looks at Jesus, he is seeing the Father. This was hard for everyone to understand; still is. They couldn’t get it through their heads that God was exactly like Jesus. We have a hard time with it, too. In fact, much of Christianity has led us to believe that Jesus was a kind of "good cop" stepping into the world to save us, the wicked, from the "bad cop" up on his throne surrounded by thunder and lightning. God the Father couldn’t tolerate sin, the argument goes, therefore he needed to send someone in to pay for our sins so that he could bear to be in our presence and vice versa. So Jesus comes and is born in a manger to unwed teenagers, grows up among the great unwashed, hangs out with tax collectors, prostitutes, the poor and the sick, the misguided religious nuts and other assorted rifraff. And he dies for the human race so that God doesn’t have to send them and us all to hell. Jesus, Christianity says, saves us from the wrath of God.
This is God’s marketing problem. People think he’s big and bad and above us and doesn’t really need or want us. They think they need to do things to make him happy so that he might give them more money, a spouse, a child, a new car, etc. Many worry that if they don’t do what they’re supposed toor believe the right things about him, that they’ll be lost forever. So no one is ever really sure where they stand with the big guy. And their life quest is to figure out how to insure that when it’s all said and done, they’ll end up on his side and get the good afterlife they’ve sought.
But God gave us a logo, a visual that tells us what he is like. He’s like Jesus. God loves us. He’s on our side. He’s for us, not against us. This whole lightning and thunder, fire and brimstone imagery is a misnomer.
If you’ve ever had a problem with Christianity or any other religion, for that matter, I get that. And God gets that. And it’s his problem not yours. He’s not against you until you get in the right religion or behave the right way. He’s on your side: now and forever. And if you’re not sure about that, take a look at the stories about Jesus. He’s exactly what God is like.