I’ve been reading through the New Testament lately, and as I’ve read the Gospels, I keep asking myself this question: Why didn’t Jesus organize a better marketing strategy?
He wants to leave a mark on the earth for centuries, but he doesn’t go to places that would help his message spread. He could have gone to Jerusalem, the epicenter of Israel, or to Rome for that matter, the epicenter of the known world at that time, and preached to audiences far beyond 5,000. He could have spoken to and changed the hearts of Herod, or Pilate, or even Caesar Augustus. He wants to impact the world, right? With that goal in mind, he could have set up a tour of speaking engagements that would have maximized exposure and put him before key people in politics.
And yet Jesus did none of that.
He spent most of his time in fishing villages around Galilee. He hung out with beggars, cripples, and sick people. He preached on mountainsides, not in palaces. He picked fishermen as his leadership team, not Roman centurions or intelligent strategists. He refused to go to Jerusalem until his time and Rome is never even mentioned as an option.
How could Jesus expect to succeed with such a strategy? How could he hope to impact the world from the back hills of Israel with a bickering, immature group of disciples? I would have done things so differently. I would look for the skilled, the intelligent, the financially blessed, the influential. Yet Jesus did none of this. He purposefully avoided popularity.
Really, when it comes down to it, when I’m honest, there’s a hidden thought of offense in my heart. I’m pretty sure I could have come up with a better marketing strategy. Really, I doubt God’s wisdom in the plan he chose. If I had been in charge of the plan, God could have moved to earth a long time ago. We could have had things wrapped up a long time ago. Skip the 2,000 years since Jesus ascended to heaven. Heck, let’s skip all 5,000 years of human history and not plant a bad tree in the Garden at all!
And that reveals two things: my pride, and my distrust of God.
I’ve grown up watching people try to do things the best they can and gauging whether or not I could have done it better. I look at God with that same mindset. I look at how he’s directing my life and think, “I could make better decisions. I could lead my life better.” I elevate my wisdom and ability above God’s and look doubtfully at the choices he makes. But what I need to realize is that God is not merely trying his best to run history well—he is running history in the best way possible.
Do I really believe that he is all-knowing? That he is all-powerful, all-good, and all-wise? Then the choices he makes must be made in perfect knowledge of all history, perfect goodness and love, and perfect wisdom. His leadership of my life and every person in all of history must be perfect.
But I really don’t believe that. I reveal my distrust every time I take things into my own hands. I reveal my pride every time I decide things will turn out better if I am in control.
I am a prideful, suspicious follower of Jesus.
“Forgive me, Jesus! Forgive me for my pride, forgive me for not trusting you! I want to say your judgments are faithful and true, but I can’t. I don’t actually believe it. Forgive me, Daddy. I don’t… know how to change, but change me! I want to trust you! Work in my heart and remove the distrust and pride. I want to trust you like a child, knowing I can’t do it at all on my own and trusting that you have it all under control and will make the best possible decisions in absolute love for me.”
Oh… it’s so scary putting everything into his hands…. What if something goes wrong? What if he doesn’t do things quite right? What if I don’t get to marry the girl I want to marry? What if his path leads me away from the dreams I’ve always had?
Jesus had to make the same decision. He only did what he saw Daddy doing, right? I wonder if he ever questioned Daddy’s choices. “Really, Dad? You’re doing that? You’re not doing this? Are you sure? Do you know what it’s actually like down here? I really think we should pick someone less… Peter-ish.”
He had to choose to trust God’s leadership. He had to choose not to be prideful every single day. And when he walked the road to the cross, when he let the soldiers nail his hands and feet to the planks and hoist him up to suffocate to death, he had to consciously make the choice to not take matters into his own hands. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” His head knew the outcome of the crucifixion would be good, but his heart had to wrestle with doubt. He had to choose to give Daddy complete control.
And guess what?
Daddy was proven faithful. He proved he could do it right, could lead a completely surrendered life well.
“Jesus, help me follow your example!”