The Real Deal

Posted: November 21, 2010 in Gospel
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Tropicana, makers of Tropicana “Pure Premium” orange juice, once used the tag line “Nothing added, nothing taken away” to describe the supposed unadulterated state of their product. I guess the intent was to persuade us to believe that we were getting a product that was “100% natural”…the real deal. Nothing needed to be added and nothing needed to be taken away because in its original state, it’s just that good. The problem was it wasn’t true. This particular product was actually highly processed through pasteurization, but since terms such as “100 natural” and “Nothing added, nothing taken away” are unprotected claims (unlike terms such as “USDA Organic” which must meet certain criteria), they were free to claim it as the real deal when it was anything but. The truth is, they had added to it. They had taken away from it. It wasn’t in its original state, yet they were selling it as if it was. And this was not good news for those who placed their trust in what these people were selling.

In November of 2006 I responded to the Gospel, the “Good News” as its translated, that Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose to save me in this life and beyond. Although at the time I didn’t know much about God, I knew what I needed to know at the time: Life (and death) made no sense to me. I had made a mess of my life and my choices had nearly destroyed me. And I knew that up until that point I had basically served as my own god, living by my own guidelines and judging right from wrong based on my own standards. By God’s grace, I knew enough to know that I was separated from Him. And He was passionately pursuing me. Over a short period of time, all of this came together as I heard and read bits and pieces of the Gospel message and it began to take root in my heart. Eventually I responded to the Gospel, was baptized, and my life changed forever.

The “tough guy” that lived to fight, surrendered. The rebel without a cause who hated boundaries, began to see the value in God’s. And the anti-Christian who had previously dismissed Christianity largely because of a few nutjobs, oddballs, and hateful weirdos that claimed to be Christian, was now utterly fascinated with the person and work of Jesus Christ. 

Today, 4 years after becoming a Jesus follower and 2 years after answering God’s call to pastoral ministry, God has led me on a winding road that in some ways has circled back to where it started: The Gospel. The simple yet deeply profound message that changed my life and is, in Tim Keller’s words, the “A-Z of the Christian life”, I now believe should be at the center of our faith and practice as Jesus followers. Sadly, my journey has led me to find that isn’t always the case. What is being “sold” by many as the gospel is either incomplete, watered down, or fraught with unbiblical ideology that is leaving people confused, unloved, unrepentant, prideful, and generally apathetic toward the Christian faith. And for good reason…false gospels leave us without the most foundational truths on which Christianity is based. Without the Biblical Gospel, Christianity is reduced to a vague sense of spirituality and/or an arbitrary list of do’s and dont’s. Christianity is reduced to mere religion…lacking substance, depth, and ultimately leading to either pride or despair. The Gospel on the other hand, nothing added and nothing taken away, changes everything. And there is a broken, hurting, confused world that needs to hear the Good News of what Jesus has done. That there is hope. There is hope for now, and hope eternal.   

Tropicana claimed to be the real deal and it wasn’t. Those who knew better were left thirsting for something more. I believe all of us have a spiritual thirst that can only be quenched by an intimate relationship with God. And foundational to our relationship with God is an understanding of the central message of the Bible…the Gospel.

 “1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” 1 Cor 15:1-4

To me, that’s a hill worth dying on. And that’s cool with me. Because as Paul points out, to die is gain (Phil 1:21). After all, that’s part of the Good News.



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