Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word…. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message!
(1 Thessalonians 1:8 MSG)
In this day of consumerism and advertising we’re all aware of brands. A brand is what comes to mind when we think about a product. For example, the company Honda uses a distinct symbol on every product they produce. What we think of when we see the symbol is part of their brand built over years.
There is also personal branding. This is essentially what we are known for and what people seek us out for. Our personal brand often involves causes we care about and revolves around our gifts, talents, abilities, personality, and defining life experiences. The way we live, the way we present ourselves, the way we care for ourselves, our loved ones, and friends—all of these aspects come together to create our personal brand, our message, and what we stand for and transmit to the world.
Many of the characters in Scripture had a personal brand. They were known for certain things. Their lives embodied a message God used to further His message. For example, David’s brand was “a man after God’s own heart,” (Acts 13:22). David’s relationship with God was a model for others to follow. Think of the prophet Hosea and his relationship with his wife Gomer. Theirs was a message to Israel about the nation’s unfaithfulness and God’s faithfulness (Hosea 2:1–13). Isaiah had a son he named Shear-Jashub, which means, “a remnant will return.” This name was a message to express Isaiah’s oft-repeated statement that a remnant of Israel would return to Yahweh (Isaiah 10:21).
In the New Testament Simon the pebble became Peter the rock (Matthew 16:18), Saul the Pharisee became Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 13). And John the Baptist did more than just baptize people—he embodied his message. Isaiah 40:3–5 states: “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God’” (NIV). John’s voice was a “lone voice in the wilderness” (John 1:23) as he proclaimed the coming of the Messiah to a people who desperately needed a Saviour.
John’s life was his message, which is why the angel gave his parents such specific instructions (Luke 1:5–25). By his simple life and prophet-like clothes and by refusing to drink alcohol, he spoke in the spirit and power of Elijah against the lifestyle of the day. John lived in a wilderness and wastelands, which spoke of Israel’s failure. God’s people, the vineyard of the Lord, had become a spiritual desert and John was calling them to repent.
As followers of Christ our history becomes His story. God has created and shaped each of us on purpose, with a purpose, and for a purpose. For the Christian our life-message is rooted in declaring the glory and grace of God. Speaking louder than words, our life is the message God uses to tell others about Himself and His truth. Through our life-message others can be drawn closer to God.
Our life-message may illustrate God’s faithfulness and provision in meagre times. It may tell a story of sustaining grace through terrible suffering. The way we handle stress, the quality of our relationships, the level of anxiety or peace we display, character qualities such as faith, kindness, integrity, and love—people will know and feel our message much more from what we do than what we say.
To discover our life-message we need to reflect on the following: What are my spiritual gifts, talents, and abilities? What Kingdom causes am I passionate about? What is my personality type? What defining life-experiences has God brought me through? What are the recurring themes in my life? What purpose do I think God has for me? In the vein of 1 Thessalonians 1:8 our aim should be for our lives to echo God’s Word.
And what if we don’t like our current brand? What if we’ve blown it and people don’t think well of God because of us? Then re-brand! We can change the message we send out by doing what God wants us to do and being who God wants us to be. We can stop being an echo of our culture, our past, or the influence of other people.
Become an authentic voice in today’s wilderness. Be the message that brings others closer to Christ.
For reflection: What is your personal brand, your life-message? Every life tells a story. What does yours tell people about God?