The Theology of Coke Zero
Coca-Cola has a unique way of innovating products. A product of the company’s ingenuity is the Coke Zero. This Coke variety promises “Real Coke Taste with Zero Sugar.” It has minimized the costs that sugar can bring, while retaining the taste of a regular Coke (though I can’t deny artificial sweeteners have its side-effects, and that’s a different story). Nevertheless, I find this innovation remarkable.
But can we apply the concept of Coke Zero in our Christian lives? Can we be followers of Jesus who are just after the blessings but not the costs of discipleship? Can we live our Christian lives maximizing (or enjoying) the prosperity that come, yet minimizing (or altogether eliminating) the costs the come with it?
Consider the following passages:
21Jesus said to [to the rich young man], “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:21-22)
Do you believe this? Would you really sell your possessions and give them the poor, and follow Jesus, if asked to do? You want that treasure in heaven, right? But would also not want to give up your earthly possessions and earthly dreams and earthly pursuits. Am I right again? But how can this be?
23And [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
You want to follow Jesus, but would not want to deny yourself and take up your cross daily. You want Jesus to lighten up on you. You want to follow Him on maximized-blessings-but-minimal-cost terms.
I call this insanity the Theology of Coke Zero. In Zero, the sugar was removed but the taste was retained. We do the same with Christ. We remove the costs of following Him but try to retain the blessings we get from Him.
Friends, it’s time for a change. And it’s my prayer that we will not be victims of the Coke Zero theology. Lord, have mercy on us.