Re-branding is all the craze lately. Anytime your product or organization gets a black eye, you re-brand it so that you can put a different face and message on it. The church is no different really. We have often engaged in this from time to time. The protestant reformation was an attempt to re-brand Christianity and put out a different message than had existed before (yes, I am aware this is a gross over simplification), the Anabaptist movement, the church of England, etc. All of it re-branding Christianity to present a different message. This is not to say that attempting to re-brand the church is not occasionally necessary, or that it is a bad thing, but in doing so, we need to ask what have we lost along the way. Who have we alienated and cut off? In our efforts to re-brand the faith delivered once and for all to the saints (Jude 1:3 after all, who can pass up a chance to reference Jude?) have we lost some of the parts that matter the most? Let’s look at some examples.
Politics is almost all about re-branding so that politicians can be seen as somehow representative of the general population. The most successful example of this type of re-branding is probably the issue of civil rights. During the civil rights era, the dixie-crats had successfully branded the democratic party as a whole as being for the ‘Jim Crow’ laws and the Republican party was the party of civil rights. Fast forward, and the democratic party is seen as the party of civil rights and the republican party is branded as less than friendly to those who are not Caucasian. The truth doesn’t really matter, because that is how it has been branded. The history of the two parties, good and bad on both sides, is lost and somehow now unimportant, and that is a shame.
We often try to re-brand the church. We claim to be orthodox in our faith, yet we use the creeds that orthodox faith hinges on to divide instead of to unite as was the intention. In the effort to re-brand, we succeeded, but the creeds that should unite now divide. We lost something important. We have become more accepting of diverse people and lifestyles in our churches (note I did not say that we do or should endorse all lifestyles) so that we can be seen as more modern, but in doing so, we have managed to cut off the conservative arm of the church universal and branded them as unintelligent, backwards and irrelevant. Just so you know, that is nearly 16 million Southern Baptists alone, not to mention conservative United Methodists, etc. We can not afford to do that. the re-branding has largely worked, and caused a split between brothers and sisters in Christ that I am convinced breaks the heart of the God we claim to be re-branding for. We re-brand and leave our brothers and sisters behind.
We make attempts at re-branding ourselves. From drug addict to recovering addict, from ‘bad person’ to ‘good person’, from poor to wealthy, etc. We lose weight so that we can be re-branded as healthy instead of obese, we buy new clothes so we can be re-branded as stylish and not behind the times, unless we go to a consignment or second hand shop so that we can be re-branded as retro. We join churches so we can be re-branded as Christian, we protest so we can be re-branded as supporting a cause. We re-brand and leave our past, and all to often the people in it, behind.
In all of the re-branding that we do, we seem to have forgotten one rather important thing as Christians…we are not the ones that are responsible for re-branding anything. We can not claim the world for God and re-brand it as ‘Christian’. After all the Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. (1 Corinthians 10:26; Psalm 24:1). We can not really even re-brand ourselves as we do not change ourselves, but God, through Christ and the power of the Spirit is what changes us. We are indeed re-branded, but not of our own power and will, but rather by the Grace and Mercy of God. We are re-branded as royal priests (o how I wish I were better at acting as one), as living stones for God to build upon (not to be used as ammunition in a catapult to destroy and tear down)(1 Peter 2:5). We have been re-branded by God through Christ, but we still insist, in our arrogance, pride, and perhaps even idolatry, continue to try to re-brand ourselves. We seem to fight against all the things that God has re-branded us as. What have we lost in all of this? We have lost our identity as brothers and sisters in Christ, we have lost our way following the path of God, we have lost our hearts for those who do not know Christ by focusing inward on our squabbles and disagreements, but, and perhaps most tragically, we have lost ourselves, as the only identity we should strive for, the only re-branding we should ever desire, is the simple re-brand that is now I follow the one true Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. End rant.