Jesus as Fast-Acting Cleansing Agent

Here’s an interactive gospel tract that brands Jesus as a “quick-acting formula” that “gets tough sins out”—a play on the product claims of Tide laundry detergent.  (Click here, or on the image below, to scroll through the various pages of the “ad.”)

Gets Tough Sins Out

I’ve seen Jesus presented in this fashion numerous times:  Get rid of dirt instantly!  Just pour in some Jesus and he’ll clean you right up!  No need to worry about stains anymore!  While there is truth to these claims (the Bible even uses the language of our being washed “white as snow”), I think that they’re too reductionistic.  “With one sincere dose you can be free of those condemning soiled rags in your closet!” … Sort of, but not quite.  

By presenting Jesus as a quick-and-easy solution to sin and guilt, this tract ignores the difficulty of discipleship and the gradual nature of sanctification.  Sure, positionally, we are clean and pure, but we are still very much in the process of being progressively sanctified.  Even though we were given a new nature at the moment of our conversion, the old nature is still alive in us and fights for supremacy on a regular basis.  We have to die to ourselves daily, take up our cross daily.  We have to resist the urge to put ourselves first in everything.  We have to fight temptation in all its forms.  We have to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.”  Our dirty laundry will keep piling up, even after we’re saved.  Jesus will continue to clean, to forgive, but a 35-minute wash-and-rinse cycle isn’t the best analogy of how Jesus deals with our deep-set stains.  Jesus’ cleansing cycle takes a lifetime—of self-denial, steadfastness, and faith.   Then when we die, we reach the state of what theologians call ultimate (or perfect, final) sanctification.  Our “old man” is at that point completely put off (no more sin) and we see God as he is, which means that we can then know, love, and honor him perfectly.

Now, granted, the “Next Step” link at the end of the tract is broken, and if it weren’t, it might have very likely addressed these very points.  But I tend to resist these sort of Jesus-as-name-brand-product illustrations, just because they tend to present a very embellished and one-sided view of who Jesus is, and they make it all about how he can serve you, instead of the other way around.

What do you think about this gospel presentation?  Should “eternal life guarantee” and “quick-acting” and “gets tough sins out” be the main selling points of Jesus?  Does communicating the gospel through mock advertising copy cheapen Jesus or send the wrong message?

Maybe I’m being overcritical and this is really just a fun, clever way to present the gospel?  Or maybe this approach is more effective for teaching younger kids?  I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

Thanks to Sam P. for sending this.

This entry was posted in Jesus Kitsch, Theology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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