27 April 2009

jelly belly: of inauthenticity and brokenness

My cubicle neighbor gave me a bag of assorted Jelly Belly jelly beans last week. You know… This bag had 6 billion different jelly bean flavors, everything from Dr Pepper and Toasted Marshmallow to Cappuccino and Buttered Popcorn.

The fun in the bag was trying to differentiate between imperceptible color variations. For example, Cappuccino, Caramel Apple, Chocolate Pudding, Dr Pepper, and A&W Root Beer are all pretty similar shades of brown.

Imagine expecting a splash of icy root beer and getting a swig of cappuccino. Not refreshing. Same experience with the jelly beans.

How can two things that are outwardly identical be so different in experiential reality?

Surely, this is what so many wonder about Christians.

Attempts to engineer homogeneous facades and feigned righteousness set an expectation that cannot be rightly experienced in reality. And this is why we run into so many people who have been burned by inauthentic Christianity.

Some well-intentioned individual was taught that Christ removed all of our sins and so we shouldn’t sin anymore. Unable to meet that expectation (since our humanity mandates that we will continually fall well short of perfection), the individual decides to fake it. He buys the right clothes, listens to the right music, and preaches the right sermon. Only, somewhere in the recesses of his life, there is pervasive darkness.

Because of a lack of clarity and transparency, there is confusion. Ultimately, the people who chose to trust this individual and his words become wounded when they decide that a fraudulent messenger certainly taints the message. And another person who loves Christ walks away from the body to avoid the stench of deceptive religion.

We are what we are. Some of us are Cotton Candy and others are Cappuccino, all broken and in the active process of repair. We would be doing the world a great service to live in acknowledgment of that brokenness and love others in such a way that their belief is not contingent on how reliably sweet we are.


  1. This is why people need to read the bible for themselves and not be spoon-fed biblical truths for 30-40 minutes on Sunday.

    Also why I stick with Jolly Rancher jelly beans - you always know what you're getting, which is tangy deliciousness!

  2. tangy deliciousness is vastly underrated.

    also underrated: people who are voluntarily transparent and transparently broken.


  3. Great illustration. That's why we only need three flavors of jelly beans: red, blue, and green.