People want people on their side. In order to get people on your side, you need to sell your idea. Sales is based on lies. Seriously, pay attention to commercials, they are lying. McRibs on TV don’t look like the squished pork-byproduct you get at the restaurant.
Lies are typically based on truth. Generally marketing takes a bit of truth and presses it to an extreme. The best marketing presses both extremes equally.
“No stains are worse than three-year old boy stains” a concerned mother says over the top of little smiley, blond-headed Johnny jumping in puddles and putting frogs in his pockets, “But no detergent cleans better than Tide” happy mother says while smiling over a box of tide holding up a clean pair of little boy pants.
If we can convince people our enemy is even stronger than you think, and that our powers are even greater than you think, we have made a sale.
Most arguments, primarily ones in the internet arena, employ this technique constantly. “Calvinism will kill babies, so come be an Arminian, because Arminians make babies.”
OK, that was weird.
You get my point though, I hope. One of the fascinating things about Jesus Christ is that He never made emotionally charged comments in His arguing (this does not imply He didn’t say emotional things). Jesus never resorted to exaggeration or hyperbole to make the bad guys badder and the good guys gooder.
He spoke it how it was.
John the Baptist doubted and sent guys to Jesus to check if He was really the Messiah. Jesus gives a calm explanation of how yes, He is and here’s how John can know it. Jesus didn’t berate John, He didn’t exaggerate how dumb John was for having doubts, He just answered the question.
He did put in a little rebuke for John to consider “blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” But, again, He didn’t overplay it. He rebuked to the level He thought it was needed and no further.
Immediately following this, Jesus turns around and tells all the people that there is no greater prophet than John the Baptist! Jesus praises John to the people right after hearing that John had doubts about Jesus.
That’s amazing to me. Jesus didn’t use it as an excuse to make John look dumb, He didn’t launch into a, “even the spiritual leaders don’t get, how bad must you morons be?” argument.
Nope, Jesus turns around and praises John. Says what sounds like an exaggerated statement–there is no greater prophet than John. But this is not an exaggeration, it’s the truth.
Jesus doesn’t make sinners sound worse than they are, in fact, He is moved with compassion for sinners. Jesus doesn’t exaggerate His points, He says what He means.
Now, you and I may hear His statements as exaggerations–it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God–but I assure you, He isn’t exaggerating. If you said it, I wouldn’t believe you, but Jesus said it!
We need to be careful with our usage of hyperbole and exaggeration. In an effort to win arguments, how many lies must we tell about the bad guys or ourselves? Freaking people out with false fear is not a faith-based way of approaching others.