What is this picture advertising?
I bet you’re thinking, uh Sne, isn’t it obvious? The picture is advertising Diet Coke.
But look a little closer, it’s advertising something else.
Taylor Swift, a chance to win a $2,500 gift card and an extraordinary party?
You’re right, but dig a little deeper. Try to unearth the hidden message…
Were you able to figure out that this picture is advertising Taylor’s album Red?
The advertisement for her album isn’t overt. There are no explicit words or phrases stating that you should buy the album. It’s a hidden message and you have to dig beneath the surface to realize what the marketing campaign is trying to do. But the evidence is there:
- Taylor Swift in a red dress
- A pair of red sunglasses
- Bold red writing
- A red and white straw
Clever marketing isn’t it? An obvious marketing campaign for Coca Cola that works as a hidden marketing campaign for Taylor Swift. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. If you’ve ever studied law, or watched CSI you’ll know that the evidence that allows us to make the assertion of what’s being advertised is classified as direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence is, “evidence that stands on its own to prove an alleged fact, such as testimony of a witness who says she saw a defendant pointing a gun at a victim during a robbery.” In the case of this advertisement, the coca cola logo serves as direct evidence that the obvious purpose for this picture is to advertise Diet Coke. Circumstantial evidence however, is evidence that relies on an inference to connect it to a conclusion of fact.” Taylor’s red dress allows us to infer the hidden purpose of this advertisement: the promotion of her album Red.
Scripture is full of direct and circumstantial evidence that point to both God’s obvious and hidden purposes. I can just imagine God as He subtly unfolds the events of our lives and His plan for humanity saying, “You think I’m doing this. But child, there’s so much behind the scenes. Dig beneath the surface, open up your eyes… I’ve got a lot happening at one time.” God is incredibly wise, creative and gracious in revealing His purposes. How liberating to know that we worship a God who doesn’t just see things from one angle, He sees everything from every angle.
It’s like a watch. What the human eye can see are: numbers, a small hand and a big hand moving to tell time. What you can’t see (unless you open up the watch) are: the gears, the wheels, the escapement, the controller and the time indicator that are all working in conjunction with each other to allow the watch to function. Similarly, there’s so much working behind the scenes of your situation or circumstance that are meticulously coordinated together to serve a greater purpose.
I asked my students to come up with Bible stories where the circumstances or events that a character underwent served an obvious purpose. They were then asked to identify God’s hidden purposes that were unveiled as the story unfolded. Here’s a sample of what they came up with:
- God saved a Hebrew boy through a Levite man and woman. To the Levite man and woman the obvious purpose was to save the life of their son. The hidden purpose (that the Levite man and woman weren’t able to see) was that the baby would grow up to save the Hebrew people and reveal the glory of God to the nation of Egypt.
- Joseph had a dream. The obvious purpose is that he would lead his family, the hidden purpose was that God would use him to lead the nation of Egypt, helping to save the lives of their people and the people surrounding them.
- Paul heard God’s voice on the road to Damascus. God’s obvious purpose for him was to convert- to turn from His old way of living and live for the truth. The hidden purpose behind his conversion was for the salvation of Gentiles and to build His church through the Jewish people.
I’m sure you know all the stories inside out, I’m sure you’ll think that the hidden purposes are not so hidden. But if they aren’t so hidden, why then is it so difficult to discern God’s will and His purpose as we undergo the good, the bad and the ugly circumstances of our own stories? Why do I still find myself asking, Lord why on earth am I going through this? What is your purpose, what is your plan? Am I making things more complicated than it has to be? Are you really using this situation to make a difference for your kingdom or really even change me?
As you search scripture and think back upon the circumstances that God has taken you through God’s plans become really clear. Both direct evidence and circumstantial evidence allow us to make these conclusions:
- God’s purpose is to reveal His character to us.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8
- God’s purpose is to change us.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:1
- God’s purpose is to communicate His message through us.
You are My witnesses,” says the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. Isaiah 43:10
- By communicating his message, God’s purpose is to convert souls through us.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
- God’s purpose is to convey His glory through us.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20
Everything comes back to these key purposes. Every event, every circumstance, every heartbreak, every unfulfilled longing, every moment of sadness, of joy, of celebration and of hope. Everything comes back to who God is, what He has done and what He will do. These purposes aren’t dependent on your educational level, whether you’re a pastor or a caretaker, they aren’t based on your beauty, your charism, your eloquence, the number of likes you get on a Facebook post, your spiritual gifting, or your age. If you know Jesus as your Lord and personal saviour, if you are His child, He longs to and will fulfill these purpose in you and through you. If you don’t know Him? Get to know Him, you’re missing out.
So what’s the hidden message? What is the purpose of life, the purpose of your circumstance? Has God really hidden it from us? Is it really that difficult to figure out? If you examine the direct and circumstantial evidence of your own life I hope your testimony will prove this: what you’re going through is not actually about you. It’s about God, His love and His redemption plan for all of humanity. You’re a part of it and not just an insignificant one either, you have a major role to play in God’s master plan.
That being said, we are human, we still have our moments. And in those moments when we find ourselves questioning our Father’s will or asking what His purpose is, we just need to remember, it’s not as hidden as we think…