Last summer, on a warm and sunny evening (even at 9pm), I ran a 10k race around one of Stockholm’s 14 islands. On crossing the finish line I was given a medal, energy bar and bottle of water.
It was only after drinking the water that I paid attention to the label on it. Take a closer look. It says THE.VATTEN which means THE WATER. Which is, well, stating the obvious. But underneath it says ‘Drink this and be saved’.
Which is much more interesting.
The advert was paid for by a fashion shop which doesn’t appear to have any spiritual leanings but instead ‘exists for men and women who want to develop their style’.
So someone, somewhere designed a label for a bottle of water and ripped off Jesus.
That’s not especially new, it happens all the time but it perfectly illustrates consumerism. It is products that now convey value. Our identity is not shaped by belonging to a union, a class, or a religion but by the individual purchasing products that it is believed will conform us to their image or to which we are already conformed.
There doesn’t need to be any logical consistency to this but the message on this bottle of water, is not that the water will save and certainly not that Jesus will save you but that their style will save you. Not saved with style but by style.
Only style is a moving target – style is hard to keep up with and if the foundations of our innate sense of self-worth is shaky we will always struggle to believe that we do not need ‘the next thing’ to continue to give us the style and therefore the identity that we need.
It is a foundation made of sand.
So when it comes to being saved, I’ll stick with the living water, the one that truly satisfies and not the one that leaves me permanently thirsty.