Christianity’s Brand

Published by DonDavidson on

Advertisers talk about a product’s “brand,” which refers to features or characteristics that customers associate with a particular product. For example, one paper towel manufacturer wants customers to think of it as “the quicker picker upper.” Car manufacturers may want their car to be identified with being fast or reliable or economical. Companies spend a lot of money advertising their products to try to implant that “brand” in consumers’ minds.

What do you think is Christianity’s brand? If you are a Christian, I hope your answer includes the word “love,” as in “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love.”

Regrettably, people outside the church increasingly associate Christianity with words like “judgmental,” “close-minded,” and “mean.”[1] And as a result, the Church is losing a generation of young people.

“Mean.” I think Jesus would weep at the thought of any Christian deliberately being mean to anyone, including an unbeliever. Wasn’t the whole point of the parable of the Good Samaritan[2] that we should be kind to those in need, regardless of who they are? But what if someone is mean to you? Well, Jesus covered that, too:

I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors, do they not do the same?[3]

“Judgmental.” Jesus would certainly disapprove of Christians being judgmental—especially toward those who are not Christians—because he famously said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged,”[4] and “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”[5] When Jewish religious leaders criticized Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners, his response was,

It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. Now go and learn what this means: “I desire compassion, rather than sacrifice,” for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”[6]

“Close-minded.” Being close-minded implies a belief that we are right and everyone else is wrong. And in that regard, Jesus did say that he is “the truth.”[7] But he also told us that we should be humble,[8] and part of being humble is recognizing that while Jesus has a monopoly on truth, we do not. We should take a lesson from the experience of the scribes and Pharisees, who thought their interpretation of the scriptures was flawless, and who became very upset when Jesus challenged their beliefs.

So let us not be mean or judgmental or close-minded. Instead, let us embrace the brand that Jesus clearly endorsed: love. We are to love one another, and we are to show God’s love and compassion to everyone we meet. If we will do that, perhaps we can change the perception of people outside the church and once again establish love as Christianity’s brand.

[1]. This blog entry is based in part on an Opinion column in the Dallas Morning News on November 12, 2023, entitled “Christianity in America has lost its brand,” by Jeff Jones, lead pastor at Chase Oaks Church, Plano, Texas.

[2]. Luke 10:30-37

[3]. Matthew 5:44-46

[4]. Luke 6:37

[5]. Matthew 7:3

[6]. Matthew 9:12-13. (The quotation is from Hosea 6:6. See also 1 Samuel 15:22-23.) The only concession Jesus made in this regard was that sometimes it is necessary to judge people within the church who are openly misbehaving. See Matthew 18:15-17; see also 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.

[7]. John 14:6

[8]. For example, Matthew 18:4: “So whoever will humble himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”


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