Christianity is divided. This isn’t new. Division has marked Christianity in various reasons throughout its history. It’s what happens when broken people grapple and come face-to-face with the Truth.
Inevitably, division means that both sides think the other side has gotten some things (maybe even some really important things) wrong. When those differences come to light in a slightly more public way, both sides get up in arms. Some of this is justifiable; we ought to care deeply about the truth and hope that the Church does not deviate from it.
But there’s a sinister temptation for us when those things we are so invested in are challenged. It’s to either grow defensive or to attack our opponents. Different responses, but both manifest in similar ways. In either case, the Public Relations firms go into overdrive.
We begin to put words into Jesus’s mouth (for a helpful and cautionary piece on this, particularly in the context of satire, see Fred Sanders’s piece here).
We seek to become Jesus’s Communications Director. You can tell this is happening when the discussion becomes more about who the other side is (or what they’ve done) than engaging with their perspective. We become more interested in making sure that others know what “our” Jesus would do, than in seeking the truth in the situation (particularly if it requires nuance).
But Jesus doesn’t need us to do his PR. I’m not sure who God would turn to if he was looking for someone to mold and shape his personal brand on earth but it probably wouldn’t be the Church. She doesn’t have the greatest track record. So God doesn’t ask her to do PR.
He just asks her to be Jesus, to show what the Kingdom lived out under Jesus looks like.
PR is marked by spin and words and, yes, blog posts. Kingdom living is marked by humility, thoughtfulness, gentleness, and yes, even forgiveness. One day, a day we hope and pray for, we know it will also be marked by unity.
When we grow more concerned about people misconceiving Jesus than people seeing Jesus, we cheat them out of the real thing. People don’t want our spin. We hate it when politicians do this to us; why would we think others would enjoy this kind of treatment from the Church?
The Church isn’t a PR firm. She’s the Body of Christ.
This means we have something the world does need: God’s presence. Let’s seek the truth, and do it rigorously, but let’s not forget who we are asked to be to the world.