Is It Still True That All Publicity Is Good Publicity?

They used to say that all publicity is good publicity, but is that still true?

Phineas T. Barnum is famous for the phrase, “All publicity is good publicity.” In this line of thinking, the only thing worse than being talked about badly is not being talked about at all. But is this true?

The 11th chapter of Hebrews is jam packed with believers who are “famous” for their faith. They are held up as examples of faith, but also as reminders of the faithfulness of God throughout the generations. But not all the examples that are listed are positive.

In a closely related passage in Hebrews 12:14-17, we read about the negative example of Esau. This is the guy who sold his birthright for bowl of stew (Genesis 25:27-34). He was more interested in his next meal than honoring his family as the firstborn son. Rather than being famous, He is infamous in the book of Hebrews for all the wrong reasons.

How can we avoid Esau’s negative example? The verses that introduce him contain two clues.

  1. We must pursue peace. Instead of peace, Esau and Jacob were bitter rivals. They let their personal conflict interrupt God’s overarching plan for their family and His people. Verse 15 intensifies this instruction from a negative angle – by avoid a growing spirit of bitterness.
  2. We must pursue holiness. The record of Esau in Genesis doesn’t mention immorality, but Hebrews sure does. His moral impurity led him toward godlessness and away from holiness.

Even though Esau begged for forgiveness his birthright was lost and his blessing was lost. Believers today have similar opportunity to live as children of the Heavenly Father by faith. To fail is to follow the wrong example in Hebrews and to generate the wrong kind of publicity.

Do We Really Need Mediation?

quotesIn a chapter calling pastors to the ministry of mediation, Alfred Poirier ties the ministry of mediation to Jesus Christ and the Gospel like this:

“From Genesis 3 to Revelation 21, the Bible is a book abounding with conflict – man against God, God against man, man against man.  But the Bible is more.  The Bible is God’s special revelation of his Reconciler.  It is the good news of God’s promise of a Mediator – the coming Prince of Peace.  The story of redemption is a story of reconciliation, and that reconciliation is all about assisted peacemaking.  Redemption calls for divine action; we cannot save or reconcile ourselves.  Reconciliation demands another.  Reconciliation requires the Messiah as Mediator.

-Alfred Poirier, The Peace Making Pastor: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Church Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker Book, 2006), 185.