Walking Billboards

19 02 2009

air-nzA couple of weeks ago I received an email from AirNewZealand.com inviting me to participate in a radical advertising campaign. For shaving my head and having a henna stained tattoo plastered on my cranium, I would be awared the choice of a round trip ticket to NZ or $777 cash. I seriously pondered the opportunity for a moment before fanciful visions of gawking hoards staring at my head, were dashed away by the wailing of a baby who had a stench emanating  from it that made the plaintiff cries all the more understandable.

Air New Zealand is not the only company to have courted bodies to act as walking billboards. The idea is simple- the image of an actual person being branded with an corporate moniker is so shocking that people are forced by their innate desire to stare at the strange, too look and this be unwitting recipients of advertising that has has the added boost of creating a visual image memory that’s hard to get rid of. People would become ambassadors of the companies whom they received payment from. It’s the ultimate quid-pro-quo relationship.18adco-inline1-650

Besides being both funny and concerning at the same time, the idea of using the body for advertising purposes is not at all new nor is it alien to Christianity. In the worldly sense body advertising is a mockingly cleaver adaptation of what all Christians are called to be in this world, Ambassadors, namely of Jesus Christ. This Pauline expression is found in 2 Corinthians 5:20 where we are told that as believers, God is making his appeal to the world through us. This makes sense right? In the preceding verse believers are defined as people participate in a new creation, are reconciled to God and given a purpose to life. The idea is that believers are brand new people living life with new biblical purpose! We are like shinny new cars- who hides a brand new Corvette in the garage? No one would! If a beloved seminary professor is any example you make a public spectacle letting everyone know you own a brand new machine!

I would argue that so too are we to act as Christians! Christianity is not a private affair, conduct in the confines of closet. Biblical Christianity by its very nature is a very public affair for it is through us that God is making His appeal to be reconciled to Him. How are we to be the walking billboards for God that we ought to be? Live as those who are new creations- put away sin! Live joyfully knowing the God has made peace with you by reconciling Himself to you through the cross. Live as those with noble purpose- you are ambassadors of the King!

As Air New Zealand undoubtedly got a lot of interest from their cranial billboards, think of how much interest would be generated in our God if we live up to the noble calling we have in Him! What attraction the pagan might grant God if we lived in the fullness of love that we ought to have for one another (John 13:35)! And yet it is sobering to look across the landscape of Evangelicalism and view not bonds of love in the pursuit of our noble calling but rather theological bomb craters, doctrinal concertina wire fences and hermenutical fortresses designed to keep ‘them’ out and ‘us’ safe. Is it any wonder that the world is painfully unaware of Gods message of reconciliation if His ambassadors aren’t representing him well?

As on ambassador to another I beg you to consider your purpose in life. Do you have one? Does it include the idea that primarily in every circumstance of everyday that you are showing people our God by your thoughts, deeds and words? That you are yourself the means of communicating the message of reconcilliation? That God has chosen you to be the witness in this world of his great compassion for sinners? Don’t miss the call, or you’ll drop the ball.

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