Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Cola Wars

"But if you don't want to serve the Lord, you must choose for yourselves today whom you will serve. You may serve the gods that your ancestors worshiped when they lived on the other side of the Euphrates River, or you may serve the gods of the Amorites who lived in this land. As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord."
-- Joshua 24:15 

We live in a land of choices. And back in the 1970s and 80s, Coca-Cola and Pepsi were engaged in an intense conflict to help the American public choose its favorite soft drink. The press dubbed the companies' marketing efforts The Cola Wars. And which company emerged victorious depends on who you ask.

The Pepsi Challenge was probably Soft drinks the best known battle of the conflict. This was a series of TV commercials depicting head-to-head taste test comparisons between the two colas. Time after time, Pepsi was the people's choice. And within a few years, Pepsi's sales overtook Coke's, which lead to one of the greatest marketing blunders of all time: the reformulation of tried-and-true Coca-Cola into a different-tasting beverage called New Coke.

After plummeting sales and more than 400,000 letters of complaint, Coke's executives admitted their mistake, reintroduced the beverage's original formula (now called Coca-Cola Classic) and eventually won back their market share. Today, Coke enjoys about a 17% market share--followed by another 9.4% share for Diet Coke. Pepsi trails in third place with 8.9%.

Not a cola drinker? You still have plenty of soft drink choices including 7Up, Dr. Pepper, Sprite and Orange Nehi. Likewise, there are also plenty of choices when it comes to religion. Like the sandwich items posted on a fast-food menu board, there's something out there to fit everyone's tastes and preferences. And people seem to like that. For many, which religion you choose doesn't matter so long as you're sincere in your beliefs and it makes you happy. They say it's all relative and that we're all worshiping the same god anyway.

But are we really? The Bible records that Jesus made some startling bottom-line claims that contradict the popular beliefs of our culture. What's more, He also backed them up. First, the Bible predicted Jesus' arrival centuries before it happened. And in the Savior's brief time on earth, He cured the sick, raised the dead, forgave sins and became a living sacrifice to pay the price for all of the wrongs of the world. His Resurrection from the grave--just as He predicted it--proved His ultimate power over death. And 2,000 years later, Jesus' words continue to change lives and make an eternal difference in the world.

So here's the question: Is Jesus really the only way to God? The short answer is...YES! Jesus said that no one can come to the Father (God) except through Him. But it's a claim that makes many people uncomfortable. After all, it's a claim of exclusivity--and it's a claim that some brand as "intolerant."

The reality is that Jesus' death and resurrection make it possible for anyone who accepts God's free gift to have eternal life! Nobody who wants a new life through Jesus is turned away. And unlike man-made religions, the way to God isn't about keeping certain rules, saying special prayers or eating (or not eating) particular foods. Instead, being a Christ-follower is about having a personal relationship with Jesus, accepting what He's already accomplished--and letting Him live through you.

Religions are mostly about "do." But Jesus is about "already done." So to paraphrase one of Coke's famous slogans from The Soda Wars, He's The Real Thing.   

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