"Blueberry Pomegranate, 100 percent juice, all natural."
On the label, a ripe pomegranate spilled its exotic, glistening seeds onto mounds of fat, perfect blueberries.
I've read that blueberries and pomegranates are rich in antioxidants that may prevent cancer and other diseases. I imagined the juice of these "super fruits" coursing through my body, neutralizing cancer-causing "free radicals." Pomegranate and blueberry juice would sweep my body clean. Over the lips, through the gums, look out toxins, here it comes!
And then I read the ingredients list: "Filtered water, pear juice concentrate, apple juice concentrate, grape juice concentrate." Where was the blueberry? Where was the pomegranate? Finally I found them, fifth and seventh on a list of nine ingredients, after mysteriously unspecified "natural flavors."
By law, food ingredients are listed in descending order of weight. That means a product contains the greatest proportion of the first ingredient on the list and successively less of those farther down. So according to this list, the jug in my hand held mostly water and other juices, with just enough blueberry and pomegranate for flavor and color.
In the bottom corner of the front label, in small, easy-to-miss type, were the tell-tale words: "Flavored juice blend with other natural ingredients." The enticing pictures and clever labeling were decoys to sell a diluted, blueberry-pomegranate flavored product, convincingly disguised to look like something it wasn't. I put the juice back on the shelf.
I left the store empty-handed and wondering, What if I had an ingredients list printed on me? Would Jesus be the main ingredient? If not, how far down the list would he be? Would my "label" accurately represent my contents? Or would I falsely project a misleading outward appearance that cleverly masked diluted ingredients? My packaging may be convincing. I may look and sound like the real thing. But what if someone came to me looking for Jesus beneath my "Christian" label and found something else? Something Jesus-flavored, but not Jesus-filled?
I often pray, "More of Jesus, less of me." What I mean is I want my spirit to be "filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19). I want my personal ingredients list to be "full of faith and of the Holy Spirit … full of God's grace and power" (Acts 6:5, 8).
The word full means completely, maximally filled. It means holding all there is space for, containing as much as possible. A full container has no room for anything else. When God gave us Jesus, he gave us himself, fully, purely, undiluted: "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ" (Colossians 2:9-10). God also gave us a Savior who was "full of the Holy Spirit" (Luke 4:1).
Through Christ, we have access to that very same Spirit. Paul said "we were all given the one Spirit to drink" (1 Corinthians 12:13), and it comes from Christ alone who said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink" (John 7:37). Only Jesus can satisfy my deepest thirst. When I accepted Christ, the Holy Spirit flooded in and saturated my inmost being. So if I am filled with him, there should be no room for anything else, and he should pour out of me undiluted.
Remember the Gatorade advertising campaign that asked "Is it in you?" The computer-generated special effects made it look like athletes were so saturated with Gatorade that they actually sweated and bled the stuff—it oozed from their pores the harder they played. In a real way, I want to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that it oozes out of me the harder I live for Jesus. The trouble is, sometimes I neglect the "come to me and drink" part. My spirit grows dry and I make the mistake of trying to satisfy the thirst with concoctions of my own making, or weak substitutes in which Jesus is nowhere on the ingredients list.
Of course, unlike juice bottles, Christians don't have ingredients lists. I alone am responsible for revealing my spiritual contents to Jesus and asking him to adjust my proportions—"More of you. Less of me." I must willingly allow him to search my heart and replace what is empty, useless, and self-made with his real, pure, unadorned, unadulterated perfection. And so are you.
If someone came to you thirsty for Jesus, what would you have to offer them? Would they be drawn in by an attractive Christian "label" that seemingly promises soul-quenching refreshment? Would the "one Spirit" flow from you? Would you pour out the pure spirit of Jesus, or a diluted Jesus-flavored substitute? Blueberry pomegranate juice may fight free radicals. Gatorade may quench a "deep down body thirst." But only through Jesus Christ and his empowering Spirit can I be "filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" in every part of my life (Ephesians 3:19).
The question is simple: Are you Jesus-filled, or Jesus-flavored? How far down the list would someone have to look to find Jesus in you? Is he your main ingredient or just an additive, a flavoring, a filler? Jesus may be on your T-shirt, your bumper sticker, your bracelet, your necklace, or playing on your i-Pod. But is he in you? Or is he just a name on your label disguising a product that is, in truth, mostly yourself?
Jesus said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega," the first and the last" (Revelation 1:8). One Spirit. A single ingredient, pure and simple. Come to him and drink. Be filled.
Erin Bunting is a writer, actor, speaker, athlete, and artist. Her writing also appears in P31 Woman and FullFill. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two sons.
Copyright © 2009 by the author or Christianity Today/Kyria.com.
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