When I graduated from college, I applied for every job Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com had to offer.  I interviewed at insurance companies, marketing firms, telephone companies, and several places looking for a salesman. 

One place in particular was Enterprise Rent-A-Car.  The position was a manager track position starting out front renting cars.  However, the rate of your promotions was directly related to your ability to sell “extras” to people that came in to rent cars. 

In my interview, the manager put a stapler on the table and asked me to sell it to him.  I went on a five minute rant about durability, bulk pricing, color, and stapling speed.  By the time I was finished, not only did I know I had no shot at the job, but I was fairly certain that nobody in the room would ever use a stapler again.  Maybe I should have interviewed at a paperclip company.

I am not a salesman.  I am horrible at trying to get people to agree with me or buy into my side of the story, especially when it is something that I haven’t completely bought into myself. 

Luckily, I don’t have to be a marketing genius to share my faith.  I really just have to tell my story, share what Jesus has done in my life, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

Somewhere along the line, however, many people started treating their faith like a sales job.  They started acting like the primary goal of faith was to sell Jesus to people.  And as we see in the media, this marketing effort quickly turns into manipulation.

Some people preach the prosperity gospel.  Basically, it says that if you are a faithful Christian, you will be as rich and successful as you want to be.  This viewpoint preaches that living for God directly results in tangible blessings and often even monetary gain. 

Sure, that is very appealing.  Everybody wants to be successful and have financial security.  So if you tell them God will do that for them, why wouldn’t they give it a shot. 

The problem is that Jesus’ teachings do not reflect this idea at all.  According to Jesus, we are called to sacrifice and suffer as He did.  So how could seeking comfort and luxury possibly help us be more like Christ?

1 Timothy 6:10 says that “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (NIV)  So if you are seeking God for the purpose of gaining wealth, isn’t that a direct contradiction? 

In my opinion, the prosperity gospel does not line up with scripture whatsoever.  But since it is appealing and it “sells,” people continue to preach it as a way to righteousness.  That is not Christianity.

The other marketing extreme is the hellfire and brimstone gospel.  (Note:  Since gospel means “good news,” it seems the term “hellfire and brimstone gospel” is an oxymoron.)  The goal of this message is to scare people into loving God.  If you tell people how awful hell will be over and over, and you are very loud about it, there is a chance they will pray for salvation out of fear.

Again, this can be an effective tactic to sell Christianity.  Yet, it does not seem to line up with Christ’s teachings.  Jesus loved and comforted those that were leading sinful lives.  He spent the majority of His time with those that were considered outcasts and sinners.  The people He confronted were the religious leaders that claimed to be righteous.

In fact, Jesus rarely spoke of life after death.  His teachings talked about how to treat each other and be obedient to God’s commands.  He told his followers how to love other believers and to make just decisions.  If Jesus never tried to sell people fire insurance, why would we?

To bring people to Christ, you do not need to be a salesman.  You do not need to manipulate the Bible to be more attractive than it really is.  It is not your job to judge the eternal destination of other people.

You need to share your story, your experience with Jesus.  You need to live your life as Jesus commanded so that people will see His love in your life.  You need to love people as He has loved us.  You need to act like a Christian.

That’s your job.  Then let God do His.

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