John the Baptist said, “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12 NLT)
Building Our Brands
John was clear that he was doing the work God had assigned him, but he was not the Good News. God called him to identify and announce the Israelite’s Messiah. He wasn’t the one. A problem we, as Christians, wrestle with is how to carry out God’s assignment while not becoming the focus of those we minister to.
Many years ago, my wife took a down-and-out couple under her wing. She helped them with transportation, food, with other assistance. Her actions included guidance to commit their lives to Jesus, attend church, and embrace the Christian walk. They did not.
They didn’t embrace Christ; instead, they looked to my wife to supply their needs. She became the focal point of their faith. When it became evident that they did not desire Jesus, then my wife removed herself from their lives. For each of us that are believers, we must always ask ourselves, “Am I pointing to Jesus? Am I a Christian Home Shopping Network, or am I like John the Baptist, calling the lost to repentance and pointing to the Messiah? Am I calling others to see Jesus instead of me, or am I building my brand and implying that they need me to gain access to Jesus and all the blessings of God?
Are We Fulfilling the Reason That God Called Us?
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.“ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. (John 21:3-6 ESV)
I’ve seen many Christians with great intentions begin “branding and marketing” themselves. They have a unique pair of glasses that distinguish them, a distinctive hairstyle, or a memorable “tagline” with which they always open. None of these things, in themselves, are sins. But when we begin using our abilities to promote ourselves to “catch fish,” then we’ve gone off the tracks. If we are to gather those whom God has given into our hands, we must place our trust in the Holy Spirit to use us for the purpose God called us.
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