What kind of company tries to keep people from talking about them?
What kind of celebrity doesn’t want people to tweet about them?
What kind of blogger doesn’t want people to share their content?
Whether you’re a business owner, or you’re just building your own little platform, no one wants to stop people from talking about them.
Seth Godin had a great blog last week, sharply criticizing the Olympic® committee for protecting its registered trademark by going after Facebook users, knitters, and stand-up comedians and other people who are actually giving positive publicity to their brand. You can read his post here.
The problem is that whoever is in charge of Jesus’ public relations is doing the same thing.
It’s not that anyone is stopping us from talking about faith. It’s not that anyone is ignoring or marginalizing or discriminating against us. It’s that we’ve made it nearly impossible to talk about Jesus. We’ve done it to ourselves.
Mom Always Taught Us to Share
Napster was great. It came out when I was in high school. It was amazing, suddenly being able to download all the music we wanted, and sharing with friends, without the hassle of going to the store and buying an entire CD. We didn’t think we were doing anything wrong.
And then the bands got their collective undies in a twist. When they discovered that people were actually sharing their music, they threw a fit, because of course, they weren’t getting paid for all that free publicity.
I understood it when the music industry moved to shut down Napster and other file sharing sites. But it became scary when the reports started flying around that bands were starting to go after their fans who had stolen their music. We wondered if Big Brother was going to come to our door, to the tune of Metallica, and take us away in handcuffs, unless we destroyed the evidence of our crimes.
The whole episode did nothing to endear people to the music industry. It made it easy to justify stealing from them, since they were acting like a huge, greedy corporation.
Stop Giving Us Free Publicity!
In the case of Napster, and now with the Olympics®, you have massively well-known, hugely valuable brands, being protected by massive corporate interests. The corporations became more interested in protecting their trademarks than getting free word-of-mouth publicity. They made it harder for people to talk about their products or share it with friends, and that means their precious brands lost value.
It’s easy for Christians to blame the world. We tell ourselves that people are so mean, and they won’t listen to us! They are discriminating against our faith, making us look like idiots on TV, and destroying our Christian heritage. Boo hooooo!
It’s just not true though.
We’ve done the same thing to Jesus. We’ve made it next to impossible to talk about him.
The problem is everyone thinks they have a trademark on Jesus Christ®. And everyone with a Jesus trademark ties their little cultural issue or political fight to Jesus’ neck. Jesus is practically drowning with everything we’ve weighed him down with.
Try talking about Jesus, and suddenly you’re liable to get stuck in an argument about health care, gay rights, Muslim relations, the immigration, Constitution, capitalism, recycling, and hundreds of other things that take our attention off of him. It’s becoming impossible to mention his name and keep things civil, because apparently, Jesus has thousands of contradictory and extremely controversial opinions that he insists everyone agrees with. It’s almost as if Jesus has forgotten that his kingdom is not of this world.
Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to have a five year moratorium on Jesus talk. Let his image get a little rehab. Let us figure out that most of our little political and culture wars have nothing to do with Jesus. Wouldn’t it be great if people talked about Jesus when they wanted to discuss something not controversial?
What say you? Would it be better if we just let Jesus be himself, and left him out of our little arguments? Are we making it harder on ourselves to talk about just Jesus?