For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
- 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
I have been hard on the advertisement industry this year. Maybe it is because I was a bit bored, being isolated for so many months, with my wife in Tennessee and a pandemic going on. My interactions with other humans was limited. So, I watched commercials and got irritated at the lies, the stupidity, and the insults to my Christianity and my intellect.
High on that list of stupid, stupid, stupid commercials (did I mention stupid?) could be a series of commercials that feature an emu that sells insurance. He doesn’t say much, but his human sidekick does. Other than the tagline, the emu usually makes more sense than the sidekick.
But two of the latest commercials that have run in close proximity to each other have given me an odd crossover to a glimpse of the Christian life, especially for those who take the Great Commission seriously.
In one, the sidekick is racing down the highway next to another car. He yells for the passenger in the other car to reach out her hand. I doubt if the insurance company would like their policy holders doing that… He then says, “I can save you!” After he hands her a business card, while still racing down the highway, he adds, “a lot of money.”
In the other commercial, the emu and the sidekick are gazing at the stars, and the sidekick tells the emu that the ones that haunt him the most are the ones that got away. The scene then shifts to a much younger looking sidekick who is giving his sales pitch, including the tagline, to a guy with long hair, thus hiding the headphones. The other guy never heard the pitch and gets off the elevator before the sidekick can respond.
What do these two commercials say about the Christian evangelist?
First, we cannot save anyone. God does the saving. Too many well-meaning Christians start hitting all their friends up-side the head with their Bible. Not literally, but they love God. They trust what God says, knowing that those who reject God do no go to Heaven. They love their friends. And if it were in their power, they want their friends to be in Heaven with them. Over zealousness is natural. As a well-known atheist said, to much rancor by his fellow atheists, if Christians believed all this and said nothing, how much hate would you have to have to say nothing? (Atheists want to silence Christians, not give them encouragement to talk more, but this one understood why.)
So, the first commercial of wishing others to be saved sets up the other commercial. The Scripture from 1 Corinthians is one of those “essential parts of faith” type statements in the Bible. Jesus came to earth. He died so that we might live. He arose from the dead to prove the victory over death itself and that the resurrection of the Saints is a real thing. Then Jesus tells us to go out and tell others.
Picture this scenario. The ice cream truck guy pulls up to the playground. You get there first, and the guy says that his freezer just broke down. Everything in the truck must be sold at half price. On second thought, the ice cream is free. It would be worth it to not have to clean the melted ice cream goo from inside the freezer. (If that has happened to you, you would understand.)
What would any normal child do? You would grab two or three ice cream bars and an ice cream sandwich, depending on how many you could hold in your hands, but then you would scream “Free Ice Cream!!!” And then your friends would come running.
God’s gift of salvation is free, in that we cannot do anything to deserve it. The consequences of not being saved are dire. The consequences of being saved gives us this love for our fellow man that should hold no bounds. (We might have sin that has not been dealt with yet, otherwise limitless love for everyone.)
Are you one of those Christians that never says anything? To use the logic of the atheist that I mentioned above, do you really have Christ in your heart? Or do you really hate your fellow man that much that you would watch them go to Hell without saying a word? Now, in some places of the world, boldly announcing your love for Jesus might be dangerous, but in some of those places, the true Christians are much more bold than they are in the “free” world.
I am one that would be haunted, knowing that someone that I loved is in Hell. And someday, Jesus will be there to wipe those tears away.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.