Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Real Jesus & the quest for a better vacuum cleaner

Mr Kipling spent his life trying to mass market exceedingly good cakes. Bernard Matthews gave himself up to the lifelong quest for the beautiful turkey roast. Steve Jobs pursued the most intuitive tech, Geoff Dyson tried to turn vacuum cleaners into sexy gadgets that even men might consider getting out of the under stairs cupboard and plugging in!
And it works both ways - In any marketing, customers are looking for a brand which carries authentic values, searching for something they can trust to do what it says, looking for a product to stay loyal to and identify with. That's why aspirational real life scripts work so well in John Lewis Christmas adverts. People are hunting down truth and authenticity, they want to belong to something with meaning and purpose - great advertising taps into this subliminal need.

On Intro tonight we are asking questions about the real Jesus. Could there be any truth in the claims he makes about himself? Is there anything authentic in his story? Is there any meaning in the narrative of his life which is capable of meeting the deep need in all of us to belong to something greater than ourselves, or simply our desire for a better vacuum cleaner?

It's hard to know who or what to believe in our sceptical, cynical society. We expect lies or failure to lurk behind the newspaper headlines. We anticipate breakdown and betrayal behind the glossy magazine celebrity wedding photoshoot. We struggle to believe our politicians when they accuse one another, knowing full well their own hypocrisy will soon be exposed in sensational revelations in the press. In the same way, we don't really believe the hype in advertising. Mr Kipling's cakes are in reality exceedingly disappointing, and Bernard Matthew's mass marketed turkeys were anything but beautiful!

Is it possible for us to literally believe the claims that Christians make about Jesus Christ, the carpenter from Nazareth who lived on planet earth 2000 years ago? Is there any truth in these stories that will draw us from the shallowness of consumer culture and into a more life defining quest? Could it really be that this historical Jesus is more than a footnote in history, but the authentic one - the real thing, the one this broken world has been waiting for, the Saviour, God’s own son?

CS Lewis puts it best: A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.
Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.
You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. ... Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is the Son of God.'

Whether you think Lewis is right or not, take a look at the views of some ordinary people we interviewed in our town this week.

Intro Course 'Who is Jesus?' from New Life Church on Vimeo.

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