Since Elizabeth is at the beach this week with our kids, I’ve received permission to “guest post” here and offer my own perspective into the meaning of “Three Channels”.
I am Elizabeth’s husband, and am the one in the relationship that remembers our anniversary each year and can accurately recall the year in which we were married. We have a crafty-looking paint-your-own-pottery plate that Elizabeth decorated and presented triumphantly; it describes our family and boldly says “Est. 1996” – it is a beautiful plate, but we were married in 1994. We did acquire a pretty good dog back in ’96.
I like to drink coffee and Tab (not together); Tab reminds me of my grandparents and, without the continued support of folks like me, we may be in the final days of Tab. Drinking Tab makes me a statistical outlier, and I like that. I think it’s fun when a waiter or waitress asks “what would you like to drink?’ to reply, “do you have Tab?” So far they don’t.
Today, sales and marketing professionals collect consumer information and analyze buying patterns on a massive scale. They define market segments, and develop marketing campaigns and targeting strategies to appeal to prospects and individual customers. Technology is enabling mass customization and personalized marketing that would have been impossible to achieve even on a small scale just a few years ago. Chief marketing officers take great pride in how creatively they can personalize their brand and message down to an individual consumer. While this may seem cutting edge, it’s a concept that is as old as time itself.
On the sixth day of creation, God foreshadowed both Jesus and the Holy Spirit when he said “Let us make man in our image.” Even since then, God has been executing His plan – a plan that leverages His absolute knowledge of each of us into personalized and easily accessible opportunities for relationship with Him.
It is difficult for us today to imagine the Old Testament concept of God these early people had as neither Christ nor the Holy Spirit had been fully revealed to them. Prophets began to hear from God and foretold the next epoch of God’s manifestation of Himself to His people – Christ’s ministry on earth. How unbelievable it must have been for the few people who actually got to see or hear Jesus, the Lord incarnate. The overwhelming population, however, as a circumstance of time or geography, could not participate firsthand in Jesus’ life events.
Jesus’ disciples were appropriately sad when He told them that He was going away. Jesus explains in John 16:7 “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” These were men whose best friend was, literally, the Son of God. Because they would have rightfully considered Jesus to be irreplaceable, the idea that a complementary third channel of God, the Holy Spirit – equal in power, relevancy and relationship – was abstract to them.
At each stage in the Lord’s revealing of Himself – first as God, then as God together with His Son Jesus; and finally the Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – God is in direct fellowship with an increasingly large number of people. Because of God’s infinite capacity, through the perpetual ministry of the Holy Spirit, He is able to have an ongoing, individual relationship with an infinite number of people. It is a degree of complexity and personalization that is incomprehensible.
So while the Coca-Cola Company probably doesn’t know me, and has no idea that I drink Tab, God does and I’d like to believe He thinks it’s funny – because, after all, that’s just how He made me!