The Coke you’re drinking most likely isn’t the same Coke your parents drank…unless it’s from Mexico. Believe it or not, there’s an interesting application to spiritual things, so please indulge me for a moment.
In the 1980s (with cane sugar prices climbing) Coca-Cola introduced something radical, “New Coke”…and the public hated it. You see, “New Coke” was sweetened with something much cheaper-High Fructose Corn Syrup (versus cane sugar in the original, hence the sweeter taste that was universally rejected). Then, with people nearly throwing themselves off buildings in despair, they relented and brought back Coke as “Coke Classic”; except it wasn’t exaaaaactly the same as the original because “Coke Classic” was sweetened with cane sugar and HFCS as not to offend experienced palates. However, the percentages kept changing slowly (HFCS increasing and cane sugar decreasing), until today’s Coke Classic that’s totally void of cane sugar.
The bubbly paradox of it all is that the public is now drinking “New Coke” and considering it “The Real Thing” (years of incremental change accomplishing what marketing failed to do the 1980s). However, bottlers in other countries still use cane sugar, so when you pick up one bottled in Mexico it has cane sugar (and tastes different). The irony is the sweetener used at the Mother Ship in Atlanta isn’t the original, but what’s used in third-world countries is.
So what’s the connection to my church?
Consider how the story mirrors heresy. When something unbiblical is introduced to a healthy believer or congregation, it’s usually rejected outright, but over time can be tolerated and eventually accepted. It may not be denial of Christ in the technical sense, but denial of Christ in the practical sense. The Hebrews went through the process numerous times. They didn’t set out to serve false gods; they just slowly began incorporating a little bit here and there until the attitude of considering Jehovah God as supreme was “old-school”.
The bottom line:
Regardless of packaging or marketing, the original ingredients of a godly life and church are based specifically on Christ and His Word, not cheaper substitutes. The Bible gives clear details about following Christ and how to be a disciple. Regardless of preferences for suits/ties, skinny jeans, bad haircuts, pianos, guitars, etc., the “The Real Thing” is based on Christ and His actual teachings, not a more palatable version of them. We’re in this thing together; Christ and His Word absolutely must be the common ground, and that’s an original formula I can get excited about!
*Coke and Coca-Cola are registered trademarks of The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta, GA
*The Bible is the registered trademark of the Creator of the Universe