Max Clifford, ‘publicist to the stars’ was jailed today, for historic sexual assaults on young women.
A few years ago, I met him and had a lengthy (pretty interesting) chat. Shortly before this, he’d written an article for Third Way magazine, which in a nutshell, said that ‘Jesus needed new PR’. In his view, the way Jesus (and by default, Christians) was portrayed in the media, was badly wrong.
I read the article while sitting in my office which was just a 5 minute walk from his… and decided to write to him. I didn’t really know what to say, except, ‘If Christians need new PR…how? If YOU (as Max Clifford) worked in this world, how would you do it?’ I also asked him if he’d give me an hour of his time to chat it all through, on the promise that if he made the coffee, I’d bring the cake.
A couple of weeks later his PA rang and invited me to his office and not long after, I found myself sitting opposite a guy who was (arguably) one of the most powerful men in the UK media. We had a fairly candid chat. He said that if I had the money, he could effectively put the organisation I (then) worked for into the media spotlight in a very positive way. The only thing I wasn’t allowed to do, was question how he did it.
I was reasonably savvy enough to know that this wasn’t a world I wanted to dip a toe into. I agreed with him (broadly) that the way Christianity is often represented in the media (esp here in the UK) is usually pretty dismal, but at the same time, I wasn’t willing to hand over the message of the Cross, to a guy who I’m (guessing) didn’t believe in it.
But in many respects, he was right. Christians are not the ‘good guys’ in the media. We’re either pathetic and powerless or (oddly), bigoted and damning. For the people who work in this world, it’s a tough road to walk; we don’t want to compromise on what we know to be true, but at the same time, we don’t want to play into the hands of a world which may want to make us look silly. How do you walk that road?
I think that simply the answer is; grace.
The dictionary defines grace (among other things) as; ‘the freely given, unmerited favour and love of God.
Or, ‘the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them’.
And that’s where the truth (for me) lies. If we say, act and do, out of love, we won’t go far wrong. Grace isn’t always ‘nicey nicey’, sometimes Grace is bold and direct and says unpopular things, but Grace is always kind and it always, always reflects the love and power of Jesus.
Does Jesus need new PR? Nope, I don’t think so. But maybe some of his followers could do with a bit of help…