Have you ever tasted instant pudding…was it an act of desperation, a result of a lost bet or dare. Was it a choice between life and death? What would force you to do such a thing? Now while some of you will tell me instant pudding is as good as cooked pudding, the more honest ones will say it’s not that bad. But I say when put up against cooked pudding there is no comparison (though I will eat instant pudding in a pinch). What instant pudding has going for it is ease and convenience. People are not willing to work and wait for their pudding. In fact, even instant pudding has given way to “pudding cups” which are easier and more convenient, yet still do not measure up to cooked pudding.
Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Yes, so what…is there a point to this pudding pondering?” Yes, there is. You see, the same things that make pudding cups and instant pudding so attractive are what make our Christian experience so bland, so normal, so nothing.
Have you ever really listened to the words of Jesus in John 14:12…”I tell you the truth, any one who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. They will do even greater than these”. Did you hear that? Greater things! Jesus also said that He came that you and I might have life, abundant life. Hello, are you hearing this? Is this for real or part of some hype campaign to get us to sign on? I am tempted to believe the latter, except that when I look at those pathetic disciples of His and how their lives were utterly transformed by God’s spirit, I think, “What is up with that?” They were totally changed, so what about me? My Christian experience is supposed to be extra-ordinary. I don’t know about you but the hallmark of my life is not extra-ordinary but the ordinary, normal, and ho-hum.
As I reflect upon this, I realize I am settling for less than what Jesus has for me. I have embraced normal, nominal, I am saved, I going to heaven Christianity. I have chosen the God who is a warm cozy fire rather than a consuming fire, the God of the status quo rather than the Sabbath breaking, table throwing Jesus. I have settled for being an “instant pudding cup Christian”. Why? It is fast, easy and convenient…no fuss, no muss.
Jesus has so much more for me, but I am too easily satisfied with my going to church, sitting in the pew and leaving when it is over Christianity. I have exchanged the cross for a bulletin, His wounds for a comfortable chair and air-conditioning, and His call to service, obedience and self-sacrifice have been reduced to helping out when I feel like it and dropping a couple of bucks in the plate on Sunday.
Give me that new time religion, a religion of ease and comfort where the consumer, I mean church attendee, is always right and God is a cosmic bellhop satisfied with serving us and giving us an occasional tip or pat on the head.
The sad thing is, I say, “It’s not that bad, in fact I like it”. Of course I have never tasted the real thing, the Christianity that does involve fuss and can be very messy. The Christianity that involves simmering over the flames of trials and temptations…the Christianity where the continual stirring of the Spirit is so rich, so creamy, and so extra-ordinary but is just too much work. So I settle, or rather convince myself, that instant pudding cup Christianity is ‘good’…it is what I signed up for…am I pathetic or what? I am so easily satisfied, so easily duped and so willingly complacent. God, please wake me up to all that is mine in Christ, to the greater things than these, to the abundant life Christianity that Jesus offers me. I don’t want to be an instant pudding cup Christian. Simmer me, boil me, stir me and make me Your own.