A) We could decide that we are right — so we should hire, or learn, any skills or expertise that will persuade other people that we are right. There are lots of experienced marketing and advertising people out there, many of them with church or religious experience. Maybe we could get some of them to help us out for reduced rates or as charity work.
B) OR we could decide that maybe Christ could bring us some insight. Jesus probably has ideas about getting people to take us – and him – seriously. Though it might be more demanding on us personally, it might also be a lot less expensive. Hey, it might even WORK better!
After all, if Jesus is so wise that a) we should surrender ourselves to His guidance, maybe He is also wise about b) how other people might be attracted to Him through us.
It turns out He has given us a couple of very strong clues.
1) My prayer is … that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21)
Jesus wants some sort of oneness – some very strong mutual connection among those who ALREADY believe – “so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Some churches have this; some do not. We need to have it! And we probably can’t hire a consultant to achieve this for us. We have to actually live it ourselves.
2) A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)I am sure the love He commands in John 13 is very closely related to the “oneness” he prays for in John 17. And He seems very sure that if these things – or this one big profound thing – are present among His followers,
“the world will believe” and “everyone will know.”
An ancient Christian, Tertullian, wrote the following as evidence that faith in Christ was very well promoted by love even in the very earliest centuries of the church.
“Look,” they say, “how they love one another” (for they themselves hate one another); “and how they are ready to die for each other” (for they themselves are readier to kill each other).
It’s not a dramatic or flashy strategy. But it has worked and still works. It is deep and strong and long-lasting. It’s hard to argue when you see people who probably wouldn’t even like each other in ordinary circumstances truly practicing care and attention and love.
And, after all, it’s Jesus who said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Mt 25)