Cotton Candy Christianity
By DANNY MINTON
Remember growing up eating cotton candy? You’d go to the fair and see folks carrying huge billowing clouds of pink just waiting for its carrier to devour it. It looked so good that you just had to buy some for yourself.
The problem with cotton candy is that it’s mostly fluff. In fact, a typical serving of cotton candy is about 1/8 cup of spun sugar with a bit of food coloring. You pull off a big wad of pink sticky cloud, plop it in your mouth, and instantly it turns to a small, hard piece of sugar candy. It’s kind of like a pie with meringue piled on top. You get a half-inch of pie with three inches of white meringue full of air, adding little taste to the pie.
Christians can be that way if we’re not careful. We can talk a good talk and have all sorts of words, but we are as empty as cotton candy if only words without caring. If we talk a good talk, but our lives fail to live like Christ, we’re just full of air like meringue. It all looks good but faces disappointment with the results.
If you are like me, we all have times when what you see on the outside appears opposite of what makes up the inside. There are days we may go through the motions of being a “Christian.” We put on the front, but our hearts are somewhere else. When days become filled with anxiety and problems in our own lives, it becomes difficult to focus and help others with their struggles. We genuinely care but find it difficult in our low times to let our outward emotions reflect our heats.
Fortunately, as we follow the Lord, those times are few and far between. True Christianity is “what you see is what you get!” Even in my worst times, you should see that there is a heart caring and loving you. The negative comes when our outside does not reflect what’s inside our heart and soul. It’s then that we become a “Cotton Candy Christian.”
Jesus told us to consider the inside of the cup over the outside. As the Lord told Samuel as he searched for a new king, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Being a “Christian” is not wearing a label. It’s not a badge we carry around or a membership card in our billfold. Christians are not defined by their clothes, the houses they call home, or the number of Bibles in their library. True “Christians,” people who imitate Christ, are seen not by their outward appearance but by their lives and how they approach all sets of circumstances.
Paul, in a couple of places, describes how a Christian should be living. Galatians 5 tells us to increase life’s qualities: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. He calls them the “fruits of the Spirit.” They represent a way of life, a part of us that makes up our very being. They do not describe actions as much as they represent our inner self. In 1 Corinthians, he tells us that our lives represent the love that Christ had for us. However, this is not a love only seen, but one felt by those we come across. It exhibits a taste that doesn’t melt away but keeps the true meaning in more than words and actions.
It’s easy to compare churches, numbers, programs, Christians, etc. Most of the time, we compare based on “fluff.” It looks good on the outside but is often more show than anything else. Something is missing in the heart.
The Israelites chose Saul based on “fluff.” Saul looked like a king. Later, others rejected Jesus based on the lack of it. They expected to see an earthly king. In both cases, they made huge mistakes.
As Christians, we should always learn to evaluate the things that have meaning, the things that count. “Fluff” is pretty and at times necessary to attract attention but should never be what we try to build on. It will eventually melt away, sometimes leaving only a sticky mess behind. The same goes with our Christian lives. Learn to be a genuine follower of Christ, one who profoundly exhibits Christ’s love and not a “Cotton Candy Christian,” whose heart is only” fluff.”
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ