For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Presentation is Important

We all like to laugh at the occasional typo, made more common in this day of fast paced messaging, facebook responses, etc.  The other day my mom missed one key and said “I must be hereditary.”  Well, yeah, of course.  Another friend talked about how busy he was with “patenting.”  Unless he got a job in a patent office I don’t know about, I think he meant “parenting.”  

Those are quick action typos.  To be expected.  It’s a little less expected, and honestly a little more fun when you see them in a printed book, magazine, newspaper, etc. where editing was supposed to take place. For example, real headlines like Deadline Passes for Striking Police, or Squad helps dog bite victim.  If they had just re-read those... (this has been fodder for Jay Leno and his ongoing “Headlines” bit for a long, long time).

As those headlines prove, sometimes it’s not really a typo, it’s just an odd phrasing, or an odd juxtaposition of words.  I was recently checking out some bargain books at an online Christian bookstore.  Once section was reserved for “slightly imperfect” books.  You know, books that have dents or dings, bent covers or pages, anything that would keep it from being considered a truly new, mint condition book.

Now, the whole section is filled with books like this.  It has a devoted “button” to go to this section.  But for some reason the site lists the words “slightly imperfect” next to each title, as part of each link.  I know they just want you to know what you’re getting, but let’s face it, this makes for some very interesting book titles.  Here are some real examples from the site:

The Love Of A Godly Mother (slightly imperfect)

Bill Gaither - It's More Than The Music (slightly imperfect)

God's Great Big Love for Me (slightly imperfect)

God Gave Us You (slightly imperfect)

Biography of Billy Graham - Slightly Imperfect

Born Again - Slightly Imperfect

Of course, sometimes the added words can really help you with knowing the content of the book.  For example:

Your Best Life Now - Slightly Imperfect

Anyway, all of this just reminds me of one thing.  Presentation can be important.  How we present things, especially the Gospel, can either help or hurt.  We all make mistakes sometimes, ala typos, those spur of the moment things that just come out.  But in our thought out, planned presentation, we ought to be more careful.  
I can’t help but think in terms of these two applications.

1.  The Church.  I’ve ranted and raved on this site for the last few years about the ridiculous gimmicks some churches use to try and “draw crowds.”  Everything from prize giveaways to “risqué” sermon series titles/topics, etc. has been used again and again.  Have we really stopped to think about what this “presentation” indicates about the Gospel message?

Apparently we believe the Gospel isn’t powerful enough on its own, doesn’t carry enough “umph” to stand alone, so we need to add all these gimmicks.  That may not be our intent, but that’s often the logical implication many will take away.  In many ways it’s an “odd juxtaposition” to put Gospel and gimmicks side by side.  They look wrong together and they send mixed messages (and in many cases they are as big a joke as anything Leno every came up with).

Maybe the church could do with a little better “editing” before we throw these things out there.  Stop and realize how ridiculous this presentation of the Gospel is.   Again, we may “miss” a few keystrokes on the fly, but when we’re planning things, let’s keep with the “style and form manual” of the Bible.

2.  Our Personal Lives.  Talk about “odd juxtapositions,” how about some of the strange things we do in our own lives.  People who claim to be Christian, who claim to be different than the world, changed by God’s Spirit into a new creation; and yet we walk, talk, act, dress, think, and entertain ourselves just like the rest of the world.  What do you think that does for our “presentation?”

We could point to the big and obvious kinds of things: the preacher who gets caught in an illicit relationship, the church treasurer arrested for embezzlement, the church leader imprisoned for immoral acts, etc.  And these should rightfully be condemned; they are an abomination and an affront to the Gospel.

But let’s face it folks, our friends and neighbors don’t know those people.  They do know us.  They know what we profess.  They know we claim Christ.  And they also know how we then live, how we spend our time, how we treat our family, etc.  They see our daily lives and how much they truly match up with our Gospel profession.  

Now, let me just say that I know we are all fallen sinners (of whom I am chief, to borrow a phrase).  We all can be labeled “slightly imperfect” at the very least.  Yet, that’s no excuse for not pursuing holiness, for seeking as Paul prays for us, “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10, ESV).  

The point is, people won’t hear our message if they are busy laughing at our typos and awkward titles.  To mix metaphors a bit, we tell our kids to be careful with their penmanship when doing their homework because, “it doesn’t matter if you have the right answer if I can’t read it.”  Presentation is important.  May we faithfully present the Gospel in our lives and in our churches, and to God be the glory.

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