We’ve all been there, either at the giving or receiving end of a sales pitch. Giving it, we’re convinced the prey will never buy and on the receiving end, we’re convinced that the hunter will never leave us alone. No one wants to be sold something they don’t want. And if perchance we purchase, we’ll forever somewhat resent that person who “convinced” us we needed that product or service.
And yet we love to buy things. Put a soft red sweater on display on a long wooden table with rock music playing overhead and we’ll gladly pass you six crisp ten dollar bills and be merrily on our way. But show up at our door with that same sweater for half the price and we’ll slam the door in your face or shoot you off the porch.
The same thing applies to most things in life. Running after a squirrel to give it a nut will not give us the same results as tossing it gently on the ground before the furry rodent. Many a clumsy adolescent has had to learn this lesson the hard way in his pimply pursuit of the fairer sex.
When did the geniuses in charge of Christianity decide that the hard sell was the best approach to introduce Jesus to the masses? When did door-to-door evangelism become acceptable and why? Who first thought that screaming at passerbyers on the street was the best way to convince them that we had something they needed? The fact that they are passing by us should be our first clue that they do not have ears to hear.
Teachers teach those in front of them. If no one showed up to his class one day, would it be thought acceptable for the professor to give his weekly lecture in the cafeteria? If you put out our shingle and no one enters your shop, what does that tell you? Either they don’t want what you are selling, don’t like you or your shop is located next to the slaughterhouse.
We are told in our Bibles that there are the Christians who are alive and everyone else is dead and that no one can raise them from the dead but God through the work of the Holy Spirit. And yet we keep screaming at the dead, insisting that they hear us when we should be praying that the Holy Spirit moves.
“How can anyone not want what we have?” We think this about many things. Whether we are the newly converted, on a new weight loss regiment or are recently gluten-free, our zeal has us bugging our friends to join us. And all with good intentions. And it probably won’t be too difficult to convince a few of our closest friends and they might stick with us for a few days or weeks.
But we don’t sell Jesus the way He did and there’s the clue to our folly.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).
That was Jesus’ “sales pitch” to the masses. Not exactly health and wealth.
The parable of the Sower in Matthew tells us that the seed must fall into “good ground.” We know that the principal method for the expansion of the Kingdom of God is the family. So good ground must mean love and nurturing and great amounts of time and mutual respect and affection and admiration.
Apparently, this thing that we are trying to “sell” is not a quick fix. Apparently, it takes years to really plant this seed well. There’s a saying about marketing that what you attract them with is what you are attracting them to. When we treat the pagan like an object in our game of salvation, that message is sent loud and clear. When we treat them like humans and respect them as people, we engender trust.
And trust is what is needed when we tell them the amazing gospel truth that is the best news ever and also could cause them to lose their family, friends, spouse, job or even their life.