You couldn’t miss the ads. Sometimes it was a famous person with a milk mustache, at other times it was someone unknown, but they all asked a simple question: “Got Milk?” Then you would be regaled with stories of how milk would make your bones stronger, your body healthier, and your life amazing. As with any successful ad campaign, there were parodies. Some were designed to poke fun at the overall campaign, others were designed to use the ideas of that campaign to promote their own products or services. Perhaps, that’s how you define a successful ad campaign.
I think sometimes people try to “market” Jesus with a similar type of campaign. It should run something like, “Got Jesus?” Then extol the “fact” that if you “get Jesus” your troubles will go away. Your body will be healed. Your relationships will be fantastic. You’ll never have money problems again. Anything you do will lead to success. That seems to be the kind of ad campaign that would really be successful. Of course, if you worked on that campaign, you’d have to do a lot of explaining away of biblical history. Take John’s “Got Jesus?” testimony. “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 1:9)
While the whole story told in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ ends up in victory, it sure isn’t one where it seems like Christians have no problems. John reminds his readers that he was exiled because of his faith. He’d been sent away from the church in Ephesus to keep him from influencing others to come to Christ. Christians around the Roman world were being persecuted for not taking part in the emperor worship of the empire. They stayed true to their faith that ONLY Jesus was Lord and refused to take a pinch of incense and put it on the altar while saying “Caesar is Lord.” While the persecution may not have been widespread at that point in time, more and more groups were cracking down on these disloyal Christians. After all, the Emperor kept Rome together. Rome provided all sorts of benefits to the people in the Empire. And, lest they forget, they were living in a time of great peace, Pax Romana, that allowed them to build businesses and flourish economically. All the Romans asked was that once a year, people sacrifice the incense and say, “Caesar is Lord.” These Christians wouldn’t do it. Perhaps they understood that “Got Jesus?” didn’t mean that you had no troubles. They understood that “Got Jesus?” would lead them into opposition, but they were ready to face it because of Jesus.
Today, the idea seems to permeate through our society that if you follow Jesus, only good things will happen. In some areas of the world, following Jesus is like signing a death warrant. It may subject you and your family to all kinds of difficulties. Our society, though, is becoming slowly less tolerant of followers of Christ, if we live our faith on a daily basis. Now, we’re good if we keep our faith in the church and play nice with others. Those who define “playing nice with others” though, don’t seem to think that sharing our faith is a good way to play nice. We need to stop worrying about playing nice, and work on doing good. We need to love each other. We need to minister to our world. In a society that is at odds with each other, we need to bring the grace of Christ and work for reconciliation. In a society that is dealing with the after effects of many different natural disasters, we need to sacrifice and find ways to minister and help. We’re called to live out our faith and show the love and grace of Jesus every day. We are called to love others, not to be loved by others.
Lord, help me stay true to You and minister to our hurting world in all circumstances.