Medicine is everywhere. Prescriptions and OTC's (OTC = Over the counter. Why aren't they called OTS's? Off The Shelf?) from a variety of sources and for a variety of problems. Brand names and generics.
When you have a need for medicine, you often have a number of choices. But it's a glance at the label that is most important. The reason that generics generally work as well as brand name medicines is because of the active ingredient. Even with OTC's, the differences between products is not so much differences with the active ingredient as it is with the inactive ingredients. One goes down smoother, has a delicious flavor, or is a pill rather than a syrup, and the other one isn't. But the active ingredient is what really matters.
It's the active ingredient that gets to the root of the problem. It's the active ingredient that brings healing. It's the active ingredient that is really accomplishing anything. Without the active ingredient, some medicines would just be lame candy.
I think sometimes in our churches we get distracted by the inactive ingredients. Lots of activity, programs, events (or even services), and the active ingredient becomes just another ingredient. Ironically, some of our activities can become inactivities. As a result, our efforts become just lame candy.
Yesterday, we had a baptism celebration at North Point. It reminded me of why we've hung in there through many obstacles. It reminded me that our active ingredient is all about changed lives through new life in Jesus Christ. It reminded me that some of the things we have tried along the way do not support the active ingredient.
It reminded me that all of the "brand name" elements should intentionally enhance, make more accessable and remove barriers to the real medicine, not replace it. Certain brand name medicines are popular for a reason. It's because they do those things well, not because they have forgotten about the active ingredient in favor of the flavor.
Does this make sense? If it doesn't, take two aspirin and call me in the morning...