Jesus’ Missed Marketing Opportunity
In Acts 10:40-41, Peter in talking to Cornelius and his friends about the resurrection recounting, “(B)ut God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.”
We might conclude that Jesus missed a major marketing opportunity in limiting His appearance after His resurrection to a select few. One would think that the risen Christ would have appeared to as many people as possible since the resurrection is one of the most foundational tenets of the faith. Probably we would have suggested a marketing strategy have entailed television appearances and radio talk show interviews. At minimum, I think a parade down Main Street in Jerusalem with Jesus riding a white horse would have provided a good start.
Some Marketing Ideas for God
In fact, we would no doubt employ a similar marketing strategy to prove spiritual truth in general.
We read in the book of Daniel and elsewhere about the dazzling and overwhelming appearance of angels. We might have one of them show up and exhibit his power in the middle of a Super Bowl halftime extravaganza. That it seems would go a long way toward convincing people of the existence of God and the spiritual world.
Or what if God would endow a small segment of His people, let’s say just pastors and elders, with the capacity to walk on water. It seems that this would convince skeptics spiritual truths.
God’s Minimal Marketing Strategy
God tends not to employ these types of marketing approaches much of the time. We find Him choosing very short segments of history to manifest the miraculous in especially arresting ways. For example, the events surrounding the Exodus of Israel from Egypt included undeniable displays of the supernatural such as the plagues, the dividing of the Red Sea, the pillar of cloud and fire, the manna, and so forth. After Israel settled in the land we find a stretch during which such miraculous manifestations were far less abundant. During the ministries of Elijah and Elisha God chose again to graphically display the supernatural. Likewise during the ministry of Christ and at the outset of the church era.
In the periods between, God was also working in the world. Today we observe His power at work every day, such as in answers to prayer. However, there seems to be a qualitative distinction between these manifestations of God’s power and ones such as those described above surrounding the Exodus.
God’s Great Challenge
Why does God display such reserve in revealing Himself in especially graphic ways? It seems that more miraculous manifestations would make witnessing much easier for us. For example, employing the Super Bowl halftime idea would provide a great opener for a spiritual conversation at the water cooler on Monday morning and no doubt boost church attendance the next Sunday.
I believe that two factors contribute to God’s restraint in marketing.
First, it seems God wants to give skeptics at least some intellectual room to deny spiritual truths. In other words, God does not want to intellectually force people into believing on Him. If their hearts are set on denial, He wants to leave them with enough room to reject.
The second, related factor influencing God’s marketing strategy resides in the overwhelming evidence He has already given regarding His existence and spiritual truth. Think of how difficult it is to explain the existence of human brain without supernatural design. In fact, the view that even one DNA molecule is the product of time plus chance is virtually impossible statistically.
Therefore, the great challenge for God is not in proving His existence, but rather in restraining Himself so that the skeptic has an intellectual escape hatch.
The Heart of the Issue
But if God supplied more evidence wouldn’t more people believe? The rich man in hell (Luke 16) wanted to spare his brothers from his fate by having Abraham send Lazarus back from the dead to warn them, believing that a visit from someone who they knew had died would convince them. Abraham informed him that if they did not believe Scripture, this resurrected messenger would not convince them.
God has given human beings all the evidence they need to believe in His existence and His Word. Though we have a responsibility to present that evidence effectively, especially to people living in a skeptical culture, ultimately their belief will not depend on their head but their heart. Jesus stated it this way: “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” (John 17:7) More miracles or marketing won’t win the heart.