A consistent image in the New Testament is allegiance. Allegiance to God or the world is the dilemma facing the early church. In Revelation 4-5 allegiance is portrayed in “bowing down” before the throne of God - a clear sign of allegiance to God and a radical portrayal of human identity in a culture where the Roman Emperor demanded allegiance (worship) to himself alone. For 1st-century Christians, “Jesus is Lord” (Rom. 10:9-13) was as much a political statement as a spiritual one.
Not living under the rule of a dictatorial emperor, we may think it’s now easier to declare “Jesus is Lord.” We are, after all, free to choose the religion of our choice, at least in the West. But such freedom comes with a cost: we neglect the reality that allegiance remains a central theme in life and faith. While allegiance no longer comes with the threat of death, it remains nonetheless. For us today, allegiance is subtle.
Back to branding. The process serves to illustrates the subtlety of allegiance. Companies no longer just market a product or service, but an identity. The popular Apple commercials are a great example. Often unawares, in the process of buying an Apple computer, people are buying an identity, showing an allegiance to certain image - cool, hip, edgy, etc... Quoting Skye Jethani again, we live in a “culture that values style over substance, image over reality, and perception over performance.” We end up showing our allegiance to these brands, these identities we are marketed and sold on.
Christianity buys into this paradigm - Christian music, art, movies, entertainment. Flashy worship services geared to attract people and provide something they are looking for.
It’s no wonder Christianity and the church struggles to retain members. We buy into trying to present an attractive brand, which ends up cheapening allegiance to mere style, image, and perception. It’s shallow. Christianity is simply another brand to choose from.
We need to remember that while Jesus is indeed Savior (Jn. 3:16), Jesus is also Lord. To ascribe lordship is to give allegiance. Faith in Jesus is our whole life. Christianity is a way of life. It makes sense that Jesus called this the greatest commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Mt. 22:37).
As I said before, brand that!