As I scrolled through my Instagram feed this morning, I came to several realizations. First of all, I noticed just how many of my friends are involved in pyramid sales programs. I say this with no condemnation since my wife wold Mary Kay for several years. I can see the value in the system of a leader training underlings and gaining value from their contribution. It is a fair system that rewards those with the drive to work. As the old adage goes, “When you work for yourself, you can work whenever you want to, as long as you always want to work.” I have friends who are selling personal fitness lifestyles, personal care products, and some strange patch that helps you Thrive. Those wraps and Advocare seem to have fallen out of vogue, but over the years, I’ve seen it all.
My second realization, which prompted a post on social media, was that “on the whole, my friends who sell shakes, patches, and face creams are better evangelists for their thing than my clergy friends are for Jesus.” That is, by and large, these friends who are selling a product are using every opportunity to do so. Their feed isn’t filled with extraneous noise, but is on message all the time. Whether it is a post about family, about vacation, or about the product, each one comes with the message that whatever it is they are selling makes whatever it is they are doing better. Several of these friends are team leaders, and I assume they are modeling for their team members what it means to “live the life.”
On the contrary, posts from my clergy friends and those who are strong lay leaders rarely have anything to do with “living the life.” Sure, you could extrapolate that the post from a quasi-news site about the latest bad thing the President has done is about the Christian call to justice, but it certainly isn’t explicit. You could notice that the pictures from an exotic vacation are actually of the Camino pilgrimage in Spain, but the hashtag wouldn’t lead you to Jesus. In this Sunday’s Gospel lesson, Jesus commissions his disciples as laborers for a plentiful harvest. The task is singular: to stay on message that the Kingdom of God has come near. Everything they do: cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; is about “that abundant life.”
How can we, as followers of Jesus, use our lives as witnesses of the Gospel? Is there a calling in this culture of consumerism, in which even my 8 year old has noticed that somebody is always selling something, to share an alternative message of God’s steadfast love? How do we use our influence to share the Gospel, literally the Good News, that the Kingdom of God has come in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus?