About 50 years ago, when many other colas were entering the soft drink market, Coca Cola™ advertised with this slogan, “It’s the Real Thing.” Coke’s brand manager said that the company was responding to “research which shows that young people seek the real, the original and the natural as an escape from phoniness.” Later, when Coke was marketed in cans, the company kept the swirl design to remind consumers of the iconic Coke bottle that had defined the brand for many years.
People still respond to the real, the authentic, don’t they? In a world full of image-making and imitation, the quality of the real thing – beverage, product, or person – is still admired.
Are you the real thing, Christian? Does your life reflect a depth of commitment to Christ that goes beyond Sunday morning songs and half-hearted prayers?
In his letter to the Believers in Thessalonica, Paul praises their authentic Christianity, which was more than words and ideas. “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 1:4-6, NIV)
Note the words he uses to describe their faith: power, conviction, joy! He twice refers to the Holy Spirit, for it is He that makes Christians, then and now, “The real thing!” We cannot do this on our own, with motivational speeches, behavior modification techniques, or determination of the will. Oh yes, there is a pale imitation of Christianity that can be lived that way. But, the life-changing experience of the Presence of God that saves those who are lost, that turns sinners into saints, that frees addicts, that transforms hate to love – is found in the Person of the Spirit.
From the beginning, Christians were taught to seek and rely on the Holy Spirit. Jesus told that first band of followers – “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you what he promised. Remember, I have told you about this before. … when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NLT) Paul reminds us that God will “strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:16-17, NIV)
Do not confuse the power of the Spirit with some esoteric experience offered only to an elite group. Nor must we run to a revival somewhere far away, led by a charismatic preacher, to find that power. He is the Third Person of the Trinity, God, here now. He is received, by faith, into open hearts that hunger for the real thing!
Some will know Him noisily and with great emotion; others as the still small voice of conviction. But, all who are alive in Him will become people of power to deal with evil, people of deep conviction that do not waver in the face of temptation, and people of profound joy in the middle of the messes that life brings to us all.
Pray to be the ‘real thing.’ Reflect on this word from the Word today. Paul says that no matter what has happened to him, the work of God continues because the Spirit makes him authentically powerful. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16, NIV)
“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6, NIV)
Lord, work in us and through us, for the glory of Your Name. Amen
(Worship with this song that invites to know the Real)
Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me Oh His love for me
Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
Free at last
He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me, Yes He died for me
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
I am chosen not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me not against me
I am who You say I am
(Oh) (Yes) I am who You say I am
Ben Fielding | Reuben Morgan © 2017 Hillsong Music Publishing Australia (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) CCLI License # 810055