“The World’s Best Advertiser”

Presenter: Dick Stetler – November 21, 2021


    The simplest way to define truthful advertising that works is to notice that often it has nothing to do with the professional advertising industry.  The best advertising is word-of-mouth. 

    Recently, I had the pleasure of encountering a mature doe and her two fawns in our back yard.  A number of people in our community encounter deer on their property and they do not consider the experience as a pleasant encounter. Deer are hungry and they enjoy dining on the expensive shubs of our neighbors.

    People go to great lengths to stop this practice but none of the deer repellents appear to work. Neighbors have built high fences and used all kinds of contraptions that have constantly moving parts driven by wind currents.  The deer are not fooled.  Often the deer feed under the cover of darkness.

    However, our son discovered a product that works one hundred percent of the time.  We still have deer but they come for the plentiful crop of acorns this year and they leave our shrubs and plants alone.  The name of this product is Bobbex. To my knowledge, the news of this product has not spread by advertising.  Few people recognize the name because its success may be spreading only by satisfied customers.   

    We often wonder how the teachings of Jesus spread all over the world when he wrote nothing.   Believers through the centuries have indicated that there is only one way this could have happened.  The faithful credit the Holy Spirit.  Has it ever occurred to believers that God may have had nothing to do with the spread and the eventual publishing of Jesus’ teachings in countless languages? 

    How could this be? The answer is that what Jesus taught really works.  Word of mouth is the best advertisement there could be.  An interesting aspect about this form of advertising is that it is not found in verbal testimonies.  People cannot trust the verbal swagger of someone proudly announcing, “I am a born-again Christian.”  When people have to announce to someone why they are saved, they often miss the mark.  Others may not see them as they see themselves.

    The come to Jesus invitations by evangelists may be false advertising. Jesus’ teachings work because of the choices people are making to live those teaching. Giving your heart to Jesus sounds wonderful but what are those words asking believers to do? 

    Teaching ourselves to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving heals our warts, our spirits, how we act, the words we choose when we speak, and how we have risen from the numerous pitfalls that come with the territory of living in this world.  How people live and the attitudes they display are more recognizable by others than what people say.  Many of us recognize the song, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, they will know we are Christians by our love.”  (John 13:35)

    When Jesus told Pilate that his Kingdom is not of this world, he said everything he needed to say. There were three political parties in Jesus’ world. The Pharisees who obeyed faithfully the Laws of Moses, the Sadducees, who were the business tycoons and well-connected to people in government, and the Essenes, who became like monks who separated themselves from the society where all others face daily temptations.   Jesus did not belong to any of them. 

    Jesus lived a humble life of quiet piety, but he walked among everyday people as a walking advertisement of what the lives of others could become after they awaken to the presence of their inner world.  Devotees pointed to the consequences of taking total responsibility for how they live.  They did not need God, the Father, the Holy Spirit, nor Jesus to live their lives for them. 

    God will not intervene in anyone’s life.  Very few people believe or understand this.  Often divine intervention is the subject of prayers.  This is our time to show up in all settings and be the spirit-beings that we are.  Jesus modeled for his listeners how to live his message rather than their seemingly relentless search for a savior. 

    Yes, it is difficult to forgive.  Yes, it is a challenge to be kind to people who have not discovered their ability to do so.   However, what is the alternative?  Do we allow others to kindle our defensive responses thus making us to become like they choose to be?  It is perfectly normal to be vulnerable and hurt by others.  Remember, we are in a training program by coming to earth.  How else can we practice turning the other cheek until there is a deep hurt causing us to do so?  Jesus died on the cross with words of forgiveness on his lips. The reality is that he did not die.  None of us do.  All that we leave behind is our physical form.

    Jesus was teaching people what his listeners are capable of doing when the absolute worst drama enters their experience.  There is no justice in this world.  Frequently our best teachers are those in power who demonstrate total spiritual blindness. Are they really the winners they believe they are?

    The Romans and the elitist Jews had done their worst to Jesus and yet, they could not break his will to express forgiveness toward them. The names of those Romans and elitists are lost to history, but not the name of Jesus.  Did his closest disciples personalize his teachings?  They did not.  Fear caused them to repeatedly miss the mark. (Luke 9:54) (Matthew 26:74)

    What Jesus was teaching works all the time when people put their love in motion.  What people thought decades later after Jesus’ death, placed barriers to understanding what Jesus did on the cross.  They began to assign weird theologies for the meaning of the crucifixion of Jesus.  The apostle Paul using his brilliant mind, provided an answer as to why God allowed Jesus to die in such a horrible fashion.  Again, God does not intervene in anyone’s life.  Paul reasoned that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb that took away the sins of the world. (Romans 5:8) Really?  Did Jesus ever teach such reasoning?

    Was God really involved in any way to save Jews and Gentiles because of Jesus’ crucifixion?  (I Corinthians 15:3) If the crucifixion was necessary for our salvation, Jesus would have made his self-sacrifice a primary teaching. He did not. Such a teaching was not a growth from The Golden Rule, the source of Jesus’ lessons for living.

    Because Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but thine be done,” (Matthew 26:39) he sounds as though he left his life or death up to God. Would God do such a thing?  Ever since the Bible was written, theologians have tried to make sense of linking salvation to Jesus’ crucifixion.  None of them have been convincing. Jesus stated his purpose in life very clearly when he said, “I have come into this world for one purpose, to teach people the truth of how to live their lives.” (John 18:17)

    The reason Jesus was murdered was because the Jewish elitists were screaming for his crucifixion.  Jesus submitted to the inevitable and died between two thieves.  He was still teaching, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”  (Luke 23:34) There was no need for weird theology to develop.  He was teaching how far people can go with forgiveness. 

    We only stumble through life because of our lack of understanding.  The treasures within everyone remain undisturbed by most because people never accessed them. They remain a victim of self-betrayal. As Shen-hui once wrote, “The true seeing is when there is no seeing.”  For Jesus, forgiveness was never needed because he was never offended by human frailties. He had come to recognize that he could only point to a different path of responses for his listeners towards those who have chosen to live in this world.

    We do not want to buy Bobbex and forget to apply it to our shrubs.  It’s one thing to memorize all of Jesus’ teachings and quite another to make them visible in our words, thoughts, and activities.  Jesus was never looking for justice in a world that can never give it. He was living what works when faced with the lack of fairness and justice. In spite of all the barriers to loving, Jesus said repeatedly, “Follow me.”