John Wesley wrote that it is unfair to judge Christianity by the lives of people who call themselves Christian. Most of them are not actually all that interested in living like Christians. They just like to use the name. Jesus, it turns out, has a trademark infringement problem.
And he does not appear to want us to do a great deal about it. When the disciples tried to shut up the guy casting out demons in Jesus’ name, he told them to stop. He also told them that parable about the wheat and the weeds. Let them all grow together. God will sort it out. Or how about Paul’s epic failure to protect the brand while sitting in jail. He writes to the church in Philippi that he does not care if people use Jesus as a way to get glory and riches for themselves, so long as Jesus’ name is proclaimed.
Which is all well and good, except we get people writing things like this piece in the Huffington Post. In it, the writer says the reason why the “nones” don’t like the church is because so many people in the church don’t look like Jesus Christ.
Ever read Revelation or First Corinthians? The people in the church have never looked like Jesus. Indeed, that was the chief complaint of the Pharisees. But Jesus kept on insisting on hanging around with sinners and losers. How did he put it? The healthy do not need a doctor, but the sick do. He even hung out with Pharisees who were so busy telling everyone else what a mess they were. It is like the guy wanted to reach everyone, not just the pure and the righteous.
If only Jesus understood what a branding problem he has created for the American church by doing that.