Editor’s Note: This was written several years ago and it is amazing how the themes still apply.
The consultants sit across from their client. This meeting is the culmination of countless hours of research, observation and interpretation. The task has been enormous and now is the moment of truth. Will this client appreciate all that they have done? Will he accept their ‘findings’?
The client motions for them to go ahead with the presentation. Why wait any longer? It’s time to hear your news.
“Well, it’s a tough world out there,” the lead consultant begins. “We’ve been analyzing the available media and making countless notes. And so let’s look at what we’ve found.”
The screen lights up behind them and it’s the image of political candidates from varying parties. The parade of images includes world leaders, presidents and kings. There are candidates and angry voters and protestors. Then there are images of the centers of political power.
“Most mass media is consumed with this story of an upcoming election and of political conflict with the parties,” the consultant says. “You have 24-hour news channels that give incredible amounts of coverage to debates and speeches and particular candidates. It’s tough to compete with that message. It’s what people are interested in hearing right now. If you want to capture the attention of those you are trying to reach, maybe you should get more involved in politics.”
The client chuckles at the suggestion and the head consultant is stunned. How could this client not like this idea? The consultant nervously reaches over, picks up another folder and hands it to another consultant.
“Oh, and then there’s the type of things that people like to watch,” another consultant says. “People read and watch stories about violence and murder and mayhem. A story about a tweet makes news around the world. People thrive on conflict and controversy. Maybe you should take your message and make it a little more edgy. Maybe people would listen if you gave them what they really wanted and poured on the violence, conflict and drama. What do you think about that?”
The client pauses for a moment and shakes his head to say no. The consultants are getting very anxious. These were the two big ideas and now, well, now, they have have to circle the wagons.
Another consultant begins to speak.
“Sir, I have a thought,” she says. “What if you decided to go into sports to get your message?”
There was a pause in the room and the other consultants nodded in unison. This is brilliant, they said to one another.
“Millions of people attend live sporting events and millions and millions more watch them on TV,” she said. “They talk about them, they get in fights over them, they are passionate about them and they lift up their favorite coaches and players and teams as shining role models. In fact, 80,000 to 100,000 can gather on a Saturday for a football game. Have you heard how incredible it is when that many people are joined together in a common cause, worshiping a team and hanging on every action? They’ll even stay for overtime and extra-innings and sudden death just to find out how it ends. You need to get into sports, sir.”
The consultants look at their client and wait. This has to be it! He smiles and then shakes his head slowly from side to side. Now what?
The consultants huddle up together in desperation. What do they do now? How do they proceed? One tells the others, “I have one last thing.”
They turn back to face him and all force a smile.
The young man begins, “Sir, I think the problem is your message itself. It just doesn’t speak to the world we live in today. We want to do things that get us ahead and get us more stuff. We want to be in positions of power and control. We like being the ones with everything and living the life. We want to be rock stars and movie stars and have our moments of glory on reality TV. And your message, sir, is so first century. It’s out of date and out of touch. It doesn’t speak to this world.
“Sir, if you really want to get your message out today,” he says, pausing for maximum impact, “you’re going to have to change the message.”
The other consultants nod in agreement. Yes, yes, yes, they say in unison. You must get a better message.
The client stares at them for a moment and sits up at the table. He rests his chin on his hands and looks at the group of consultants. They’ve studied everything he asked them to study. They’ve interpreted everything they were asked to interpret and yet, they seemed to miss the point entirely.
He pushes his chair back and stands up. He places his strong hands on the table and looks the head consultant in the eyes as he addresses the group.
“You’re right about politics,” the client says. “Many think that it was through politics that I would do my best work. The funny thing is that I’m already in politics. Unfortunately, some have claimed to be my friend in politics and have done lots of things that I find, well, offensive. Yet, I am still there and still working. What you missed is that I’m not here to establish a political power base or sit on a throne, or grab control of a nation. I’m here to establish a different kind of kingdom and my kingdom works on the laws of love and grace and mercy.”
And then he turns to the second consultant.
“Yes,” he says, “people are captivated by violence and by the displays that show the level of evil to which a person can sink. From the beginning of time, people have done evil against others and me. Violence always escalates and people thirst for more and more. Yet, my message is about peace in the middle of conflict. It’s about the innocent who suffer at the hands of the wicked. It’s about I walked a path to a cross and endured everything that is humanly possible. And because, three days later, I walked out of a tomb, my message shows you that you are no longer a slave to violence. No, I don’t need more violence in this message. What I need is for people to see a better way, a way of love, a way of peace and way of hope, even in the middle of a 24-hour news cycle.”
He turns to the third consultant.
“Yes,” he says, “there’s a great deal of interest in sports. Some of the biggest single gatherings of humanity have come in the form of sport. It’s amazing the way that people will pull together to pull for a team and then use it as an excuse to be absent from other assemblies in their lives. No, I’m concerned with far more than sports. Yet, there are some among those teams and coaches and players who spread my message. They take it seriously and they tell others about it. No, my message is bigger than sports. I just wish people wouldn’t worship at that altar the way that they do.”
And then he turns to the last speaker, the final consultant.
“Yes, the world has changed considerably,” he says. “Culture has advanced considerably over the many years of humanity’s existence and the culture that is here 25 years from now will be dealing with some different issues than you are dealing with today. But the problem isn’t the message. The problem is the culture. In culture, people start to get the ideas that they can save themselves and be gods with a little “g.” They quickly find out that there’s never enough and they are never satisfied. That part of the story has never changed and it will continue to plague people in the future. No, my message doesn’t need to change. It still answers the basic questions that everyone asks: Why am I here? What about the bad things in my life? What happens when I die? My message of active love, of peace, of hope, of grace and mercy and redemption speaks as loudly today as it did when it was first spoken. Maybe, if you really listen, it’s speaking to your right now.”
He thanked the group of consultants and started to walk toward the door. As he was about to exit, he paused and turned back toward them.
“What this world needs,” he says, “isn’t a group of people who can interpret the trends and tell me what is happening. What this world needs is a group of people who can defy the trends of this culture with my message. Hope, love, grace and mercy still come on top. This world still needs those who speak the good news.”
With that Jesus shakes their hands, offers them a blessing and goes on his way.
The consultants are left to ponder his words and the true meaning of his message.
Does it speak to you? It’s impossible to truly reset your life story without considering the implications of the message from this client.
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