Years ago, I was on a long, cross-country flight across America. For the duration of the flight, I sat next to a film producer who created television ads for Nissan. As we talked about her assignment and how she creates ads, she made a comment, “You are what you drive.” She said that comment was the message of her current ad campaign. I was shocked by her statement. At the time, I was driving a car that gave lots of impressions, none of which I wanted to represent.
The logic of the producer is not just the bedrock of a slogan-driven advertising campaign it can even seep into the thinking of people of faith. God likes to shake up this way of thinking by bringing people and unusual manifestations of His Spirit into our lives to confront these foolish mindsets.
Think about Isaiah the prophet who was called to prophesy lying on his side for over a year or John the Baptist dressed in camel hair and eating meals of insects dipped in honey. On the Day of Pentecost, some observers thought the people under the influence of the Spirit were hitting the bottle a bit too early in the day. What about the Azusa Street Revival when the fire department was repeatedly called because flames of fire appeared on the roof where the meetings were taking place?
When we allow the culture or even the church culture to define what we think we need, we put ourselves in a place of jeopardy. It is the kind of jeopardy that distances us from the voice of God requiring another person or group to bring definition to our life. Once a created need is believed we will go into all kinds of debt to drive the image we think we lack. It can take the form of unreasonable financial debt, spiritual debt, relational debt or emotional debt.
None of these forms of debt-bondage can ever accurately define us. We enter this life already defined by God. We entered this life as a completely loved and fully accepted child of God. We become vulnerable to manipulation when we forget the greatest debt in our life has already been paid by the One who knows us best. We have no other debt in this life except the debt of love.
I would like to introduce a new ad slogan – “You are what you believe.” If we believe that God is a good, merciful and loving Father, we will not be vulnerable to the presentation of a glossy ad campaign from the marketers in the world or sadly, at times, in the Church.