Recently my wife and I were enjoying lunch at Costco (aka shamelessly filling up on the free samples) when we encountered a very interesting scenario.
A vendor was trying to get us to buy some 5-hr energy drink. He was also trying to evangelize us with his own dietary philosophy. It was interesting. As we attempted to pull away it was proving difficult. So we went with the band-aid approach and quickly pulled away. As we left he made his final plea with all of the gusto of a Southern Baptist country preacher:
It will make you happy!
That may seem like a strange plea but this guy was as sincere as his ear-to-ear smile.
You’ll never guess what happened next. Multiple people started repeating him and coming to him. It was as if he said, “I got $5 for the next 5 people who come over here.” People flocked to him because he said his product would make them happy.
This is extremely interesting to me as I try to listen to the heart cries of our community. What is their need? It is clear that it is happiness. They shamelessly repeated and responded to the message of the Costco guy.
How does the gospel intersect with this truncated narrative? Well it answers it. You know that humanity, created in the image of God, we are not able to be truly satisfied, truly happy on anything that is created. There may be a temporary buzz but it is, at the end of the day, fleeting. In fact the 5 hr energy drink is a great illustration for what the functional saviors of this world do: they cannot deliver anything lasting, it is all temporal. Created things prove to be insufficient saviors for humanity.
On the other hand we have Jesus. In Jesus Christ we have God in the flesh coming to hungry and hurting people (Jn. 6.35) and offering satisfaction and rest (Mt. 11.27-29). He claims that he can fullfill the soul that hungers and thirsts while healing the one who is laden with guilt and shame.
What is the difference between Jesus and the Costco guy? One works the other doesn’t. While the Costco guy can draw a crowd of hopeful people who are starving for happiness Jesus can actually satisfy such a crowd.
This is just another reminder of the pervasiveness of the fall and the elasticity of the gospel; Jesus truly is the Savior, the only Savior who can save and satisfy sinners like me and you.