Monday, April 2, 2012

I Am The Way

I’ve done many things in the interest of customer service over the years. Maybe my most infamous incident was sitting in a tub with a customer to see if it could comfortably hold two people. We were still clothed, and yes, I did get the sale. Also on my list of more extreme measures was sitting in on an Amway sales pitch. A prospect I’d been after for awhile was involved in Amway and asked me if he could do a presentation for me. I thought it might be a way to get my foot in the door with him so I said, “Sure!”

The presentation was not really boring, nor compelling. It did not change any of my pre-conceptions of “multi-level marketing” at all. I did ask the presenter a question that could have made me jump on board, “How much residual income has this business generated for you?” Ultimately, the true testimony of success would be somewhere in the thousands of dollars. After all, I just sat through a presentation that promised me the moon – I could make enough money that I could quit my regular job and work from home making more money than I ever had. You know be your own boss and make your own hours.

This particular prospect is quite intelligent and prudent. Besides successfully running his own plumbing business, he has actually invented some items. In my assessment, if anybody was capable of earning significant income from Amway, he was the man. In order to convince me that I could be successful, I needed to hear of the results of his success. I’d already heard about people he had read about who were successful. I’d already heard about conference speakers he had heard that were successful. I’d even heard about people he had met and talked with personally and were successful. But was he successful?

He shared with me that on a good month, he might bring in an extra $100. Of course that involved an investment of time as well. He had been doing this for 20 years and that was the most he had ever managed in a month. His personal testimony failed to match up with what the product and service promised.

It struck me lately that this same attitude I possessed towards Amway can be the same attitude that non-believers have towards Christianity. After all, we are promising them a changed life, a resilient hope, a Savior that can heal brokenness, addiction, heartache and all other sorts of emotional and spiritual pain. We are promising better marriages, a part in a thriving community of believers, joy unspeakable, a peace that surpasses understanding and an abundant life. When the prospective unbeliever looks us over, quizzes us and finds us stressed out, depressed, in the middle of a divorce, strung out on sleeping pills, forming fighting factions in the church and using fake smiles to cover up our unhappiness he is just not “sold” on our “product.” He does not just want to hear how awesome Jesus is, he wants to see how awesome Jesus is!

Check out what James writes: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves (James 1:22).” Good works do not save an individual, but a saved individual should be marked by good works! Even more powerfully the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17),” or “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2).” The verb in the Romans passage is especially strong, coming from the Greek word where we get our English word “metamorphosis.” The evidence of the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit is a changed life. A changed life does not result in salvation, but salvation should result in a changed life!

Consider the caterpillar. He spends his existence creeping around, a fuzzy, ugly, little bug. Yet then he goes into a cocoon, and afterwards emerges as a beautiful, colorful, soaring butterfly. Nobody ever mistakes a butterfly for a caterpillar. And a butterfly does not emerge from the cocoon to keep crawling around on the ground. He soars on his new wings! He has undergone a metamorphosis, a dramatic change. His new life barely looks like his old life.

Can you imagine a butterfly pitching the value of a cocoon to a caterpillar? The caterpillar can gaze on the colorful wings of the butterfly as he listens. “That’s right Mr. Caterpillar, I used to be just like you – crawling around and earthbound. But then, I bought a cocoon, and a few days later I came out changed forever! Check out these colors! Check out these wings! My life is totally new!” The new life of the butterfly is visibly evident for the caterpillar. How big of an influence would that be on his cocoon decision?

Unbelievers should see us in the same light, especially those that knew us before Christ changed our lives and the Holy Spirit filled us. A changed life is not to the glory of us, but to the glory of Christ. That changed life is evidence of the Gospel. Before people will read a Bible or read a book or an article, they will read you. Authentic Christians are a powerful tool for reaching the lost. Never underestimate the power of God’s word to reach people – a Bible in the hands of a seeker can accomplish miraculous things. However, some people want to see proof that our Savior and his Word have truly life changing power. Then they look to you.

Ultimately, my gambit with my prospective customer was a lose / lose scenario. I chose to not invest in Amway, and I failed to win him over as my customer. I didn’t see the value of buying into his offer, and he didn’t see the value in making me his primary supplier. Both of those were minor decisions when compared with the decision to accept or reject Christ. Has your life been truly changed? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to work in you and through you? To “wash” you and “renew” you (Titus 3:5)? Do people see a change in you? Do people see the hope, mercy, love, grace and peace of Christ in your life? The coolest part of the deal is when they ask you how much that costs, you can tell them, “It’s free – the price has already been paid.” You’re not selling Amway, you are sharing Jesus, the one who said, “I am the way.”

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