I begin with a confession: I watch more television than I should. I have been watching more television than usual over the past few weeks due to the season and series finales that have been broadcast. Because I have been watching so much television, I have, by default, watched a number of television commercials. Some have been moving (the gum company that shows a dad making thousands of origami swans), some have been clever (the car company promoting its wi-fi capabilities) and some are odd (Sprint’s current commercial for the ‘framily’ plan comes to mind). Whether they are good, bad or unusual, they all serve the same purpose: to promote and peddle their product.
The strange thing about my recollections about these televised ads is this: I cannot name the brands promoted by the commercials that move me to tears through either sentiment or humor. But the products advertised through the odd and off-key commercials I can easily remember. From the extremes of the commercials of the past for Ginsu knives and the “Snuggie” to the current ads for Sprint or Old Spice, the unusual seem to be memorable. Whether we want what is being sold or not, we cannot forget what they are selling.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NIV)
In a real sense, those who call themselves Christians are walking advertisements for Christ. Some of us are like those commercials for the “Sham-wow” and we are living up to the out-of-context moniker that the King James Version gives church-folk in 1 Peter 2:9 – ‘a peculiar people’. Some of us are categorized as ‘weird’ by the world around us: we are the ones talking about Jesus, giving out Bible tracts and praying (out loud) at restaurants. Some of us are like those moving commercials: maybe people don’t remember what we were promoting, but they remember the love and concern we showed. Some of us are like the funny commercials: Great to experience and pleasant to come across, even if we can’t remember why.
Call me a dreamer, but I want it all. I want to live out my faith like a living Hallmark commercial. A long time ago I came to the realization that I cannot watch the Hallmark Hall of Fame broadcasts when they are shown a couple times a year because the commercials are too heart-wrenching. But here is the funny thing: Hallmark has mastered the perfect balance –they use emotion so powerfully that you remember what they are promoting. That is the way I want to promote and proclaim the faith. I want to engage both the heart and the mind; I want to connect with my fellow strugglers emotionally and purposefully.
We are all selling something. My hope and prayer is that we are using all we have to promote all that we hold dearest. This is what I would like to advertise: We received Christ when God cared enough to send the very best.