In case you missed it, scientists have had a breakthrough and can now grow meat in a lab. They harvest cells, grow them in an incubator and then you have steak that’s better than steak. And they say this is the future and everyone will soon be eating lab-grown meat. But the problem is that was 5 years ago and almost no one’s talking about or embracing this artificial meat, at least not yet.
I believe the reason is we want substance, we want something real. We want real relationships, real experiences and (for Christians) real worship. But we get into trouble when we try to fill that void with us.
We think God isn’t showing up so we’ve gotta be charismatic enough or serious enough or intense enough to hold our lives together.
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he touches on people who had tried to replace Jesus as the substance of life with their own seriousness and charisma. They claimed that to have a full spiritual life you needed to obey laws and see visions and worships angels. But Paul speaks to people confused by this in Colossians 2:16-19:
“16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.”
Paul says finding fulfillment outside of Jesus is not only wrong, but in a sense dead just like body not attached to the head. And so the question is what is the substance of your life? Do you look to shadows, things like religious observance or romance or riches to fulfill you? Or do you look to Christ, the Creator and Sustainer and even Redeemer of our lives.
Every Sunday in our church we celebrate Communion, a meal of bread and wine that represents the body and blood of Jesus. We proclaim that Jesus is our substance, in his death on a cross and a new life he gives to us. There’s nothing more real than the one who made us giving his body for our us, and giving his life to us.
Jesus alone brings substance to families and churches and people. He’s not a counterfeit Ribeye grown in a lab, he’s the real deal that fills our lives with meaning, joy, peace and hope. Trust him more than the shadows around you, knowing anyone can partake of him and experience the true reality and life that only he brings.