Jesus, the Real Thing

Have you ever tried something that wasn’t as good as the real thing? 

Maybe you bit into a generic Oreo before realizing it wouldn’t taste the same. Maybe it was a refreshing gulp of milk, only to be met with something soy. Or perhaps you ordered a California burger thinking it was just beef raised on the west coast… think again!

Substitutes aren’t just limited to food products. In fact, it’s easy to find the substitute for almost anything in our lives. Sometimes without even realizing it. 

For those of us who follow Jesus, it’s a good practice to check your heart for substitute gods. These are people or things that occupy the place which God alone should occupy. In other words, an idol.

Most of us want to believe we don’t have any, but stop and ask yourself these questions:

  • Who/What do I turn to when I am bored, lonely or frustrated?
  • Where do I find my sense of value in life? 
  • Who/What do I love the most?  

It’s easier than we think to put our hope in substitutes and miss the real thing – but we don’t have to if we know Jesus!

Here are a couple thoughts from Acts 17 about why the real thing is always better than substitutes:

Idols Disappoint; Jesus Satisfies

Idols will always over-promise and under-deliver. We’ll always be disappointed when we turn to them in our moment of need. Why? Because they can’t actually deliver what they promise. 

But Jesus can. 

Acts 17:25 tells us “God is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.”

Jesus is not only the source of all life, but the one who sustains it. He’s not depleted when the economy changes, or shaken by politics. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever and he can be trusted. 

When Jesus is who we love the most, we’ll stop running to things that can’t satisfy us and we’ll find lasting satisfaction in him.

Idols Deceive; Jesus is Truth

Idols deceive us by making us believe that we’re in control. The problem is, it only takes a few moments in real life to know that isn’t true.

When we believe the lie that we’re in control, we also believe the lie that God is not. 

But Acts 17:28 tells us “‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’”

This means that we come from God, not the other way around. In other words, God is in control! And he is perfect in all his authority.

When we believe the truth that Jesus is in control, the burden of trying to hold it all together disappears and we gain true peace.

Idols Destroy; Jesus Gives Life

Ultimately, the worst thing about idols is that they destroy our lives by keeping our attention focused on the things we don’t need, so we miss out on the One we do need. 

Acts 17: 26-27 tells us that “from one man God made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

God’s plan has always been for us to seek him and be in relationship with him. And that relationship is only possible through Jesus. 

Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we find forgiveness from our sins and a relationship with God. Not only that, but when Jesus is who we love the most, we get a brand-new life!

Jesus satisfies, helps us live in truth and gives us life. 
So, the question is… would you rather have a substitute or the real thing?

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