How's your advertising?
I live in the Buckeye State. Not only do I live in the Buckeye State, but I live in the center of the state, in the midst of Ohio State country, and the Buckeyes from OSU rule the land. If you've never seen a buckeye, you're not missing much. These little things are basically nuts, or maybe they're a fruit, who knows. But when you're talking about them in regard to football people around here just go crazy. Jason and I, being a transplanted Floridian and transplanted Northerner, respectively, don't quite understand this feeling. It is pretty overwhelming to live right in the thick of it!
So, needless to say, if your business has the word "Buckeye" in it, you've got a pretty good chance of being successful simply because you're in the right neighborhood for it. There are two pages in the phone book dedicated to companies with "Buckeye" in the name. If you were to take the name "Buckeye Plumbing" to San Francisco, it wouldn't have any elevated chance of tapping in to some undercurrent of mania that it would here in Ohio. It is knowing your target audience that matters; you need to advertise appropriately.
Jesus knew just who his target audience was. Did you ever stop to think of what Jesus would have been like had his primary audience been the Pharisees and the lawmakers of the day? Would he have dressed in expensive robes, spoken in theologically intellectual terms, and been seen in all the important places in order to get through to them? If he were a good businessman, he sure would have. He would have changed them from the inside out.
What if his target audience was the army of the Roman empire? Would he have showed brute strength to get their attention, and bravely fought alongside them to contribute his military prowess? To get his message across, of course he would have. He would have met them where they were. That's what he taught his disciples- and Paul and Peter especially learned this well.
Instead, however, Jesus took his message of hope and salvation to the sinners and outcasts. After all, it's the sick that need a doctor, not the healthy, as Jesus himself said. His audience was filled with the everyday ragamuffins who didn't have the clout, wealth, pride and position necessary to demand attention from those in power. He spoke in stories, parables that resonated with the people with whom he spent his time. He shared meals with them, mourned with them, laughed with them, basically lived an everyday life with them, so that they would relate to him and understand that he was one of them- a leader, to be sure, but still one of them. He lived without material possessions to minister to those that had nothing.
Jesus knew how to advertise his product. And he was that product.
So today, in my life, do I know my audience? When I am living out the gospel and witnessing to those around me, can they relate to me? If I'm with moms, do I show that I'm down in the trenches too, slugging it out day by day while keeping my knees to the carpet and my eyes on the cross? If I'm with students at the college where my husband works, do I show them that I remember what it's like to be busy college kids trying to find my way in the world? Do I point them toward the one that can give them lasting peace and contentment as they struggle in a world that values them only for what they can do and not who they are?
Godly advertising is about being yourself, but being the self that the people around you can understand.
As we live side by side with the people in our lives, it's important to know how to advertise Jesus to those around us. We never should change our tune but it's important to change the instruments every once in a while. Meet them where they are. Speak their language.
And if that means talking about the Buckeyes to witness to your neighbors? So be it.