Selling Jesus

By Paul Koch

“What must I do to be saved?” asks the young professional who somehow found his way to the pastor’s study after another weekend of regret and shame. There is clearly a lot on this man’s mind, a lot that weighs him down and causes him to stare off into the distance as he gathers his thoughts for his next confession. It might have been any number of hedonistic pursuits that fill him with regret. Then again, it might be a longing for something better, something more permanent and sure. With shaky hands and bloodshot eyes, he asks again, “What must I do to be saved?”

The pastor is rarely faced with such honest and open dialogue about the faith. He isn’t used to such direct longing for salvation. It usually comes with a mountain of excuses and blame. Not this time. No, this time, this particular man already seems to be broken, already laid bare before his Creator, willing to do what is necessary for the comfort and assurance of salvation. Deep down, the pastor is thrilled, though he doesn’t want to show it. He leans in, looks the man directly in the eyes, clears his throat, and replies, “How much have you got?”

That’s right. From an early age, we are taught the value of supply and demand so that when you have a corner on the market, you don’t just give it away for free. The scarcity of the Word of Truth demands that it comes with a hefty price tag. What will you give for your salvation?

To be sure, selling Jesus is a delicate art form. We don’t want to be to blatant with our marketing plans and so reveal what we’re up to behind the curtain. After all, we want to keep them coming back for more. If we don’t maintain a proper balance of supply and demand, we run the risk of losing our customers, or even worse, drive them to our competitors. So, while it might be more fitting to put the offering plates at the door of the church so people can pay long before they get comfy in their pews, it looks a bit tacky, so we get a little more creative.

It’s not enough that your pastor is a preacher and teacher of the Word of God. No, he must be a CEO of sorts as well. He at least has to get out of the way when the CEO types discuss how to better run the church/business so that they don’t waste time and opportunity.

So, we’ll let you get nice and comfy, and we won’t even look too closely at what you do when the offering plate is passed in front of you. After all, there are other ways we can demonstrate the value of the commodity we possess. Perhaps we can charge you to send your children to go to our vacation Bible school. It doesn’t have to be much, just a nominal charge to make sure that you know this is valuable. You need to pay, just a little, for Jesus. In addition, we can set up some sort of store where you can purchase tools of a more spiritual life. Right there in the foyer of the church, we will have devotionals, bracelets, and videos, all enabling you to demonstrate your willingness to give it all for your salvation.

But this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. For beyond the money in your pockets, what we really want is for you to demonstrate that you are worthy of this gift of salvation. We demand lives that show remorse and a willing desire to do good. We want tears in the eyes, torn garments, dust, and ashes. What have you got to give for your salvation? We don’t want an empty show of piety or some shallow remorse for a wrong doing. No, we want you to demonstrate a new life, a new direction for your future.

And just when you think it is enough, just when you think you have demonstrated that you are ready to receive salvation, that is when we will show you how much more you must give. You may be wearing the t-shirt with our team’s logo. You may have the magnet on your fridge, but the selling of Jesus is not so cheap. You must dig deeper.

And deeper.

How deep can you go? How much do you have to give? How much is your salvation worth?

“The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

One thought on “Selling Jesus

  1. Some pastors feel they fall short in winning souls for Jesus, but the resulting guilt is misplaced. First, it is by the work of the drawing of God that one even begins to feel his or her need for salvation, as noted in John 6:44. Jesus did not raise preachers to be like used car salesmen for the gospel, but He commanded them to earnestly declare the word of God to the lost. God does the work. The pastor is the messenger, the local shepherd of His flock, and must be patient with the sheep he has been assigned. He will have to encourage the weak ones, move the recalcitrant ones, and try to keep his flock together. Some of his sheep will wander away, and that is no surprise to God. He will rescue some of them, but not all. Still, it is entirely of God’s will, whom He has ordained to eternal life and which ones desired Him, but in fact belonged to the world all along.

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