Today I woke up to my least favorite sound on a winter morning. The snow plow. And it was loud. It sounded like it was ripping off bumpers as it drove down the street. Then it came a second time. Something in my head said that I was in big trouble this morning. So I rolled over, picked up my phone and dialed the school storm line. If the kids do not have to school, I can wait a little bit to shovel. But school was on. It was time to get up.
I got dressed, brushed my teeth, and started downstairs. As I reached for my boots I noticed that the dog had made it outside this morning, but no one let him back in. Opening the door I stumbled on the best part of my snowy morning. It was just fluff. You see, I have glasses and I need to update my prescription. I looked out the bedroom window after the plow may his second trip this morning and saw what looked like six inches of snow. But if you know anything about shoveling snow, you know that six inches of fluff is a lot easier to move around than six inches of a regular snowfall, or worse, a “wet” one.
In Bible College we had a way of describing the writing of those students who knew how to spin a line. They were often the ones who waited until the last minute to write their papers, and still managed to get a high grade. We used to say that those papers written with excellent vocabulary and logic but no substance from research were “all fluff and no stuff.” The six inches of snow that welcomed me to the driveway was all fluff and no stuff. And sometimes there are Christians who are “all fluff and no stuff.”
You know the kind of person I mean. They carry their big, leather-bound Bibles into the church with them on Sunday morning, but never open them during the sermon. Every time they come to something the church has going on they say things like, “We should do this all the time.” Except when the next time comes around they have something else to do. They nod their heads and “amen” the preacher and then they do the exact opposite on their way out of the foyer. Sure, they can quote Scripture, they may have perfect attendance, and they may encourage in ways that seem spiritual. But their fruit is non-existent. Christian living is not part of their vocabulary.
One writer of the New Testament paints a word picture for these “all fluff and no stuff” Christians, those who portray themselves to be the spiritual elite but are, at best, spiritual babes. Look at these lines from the Book of Jude.
They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
(Jude 12b-13 NIV)
Jude provides four pictures that reveal four characteristics of “all fluff and no stuff” Christians.
- Lack of Refreshment. They are clouds that come into our lives with the promise of life-giving, refreshing rain. Only they do not drop the rain that they promise. Instead they just blow around aimlessly. They float to and fro, “wandering in the wind.” Each place they have stopped has hoped to gain something from them, but they move on without the slightest deposit of life.
- Lack of Fruit. Along with a failure to bring refreshment, they fail to produce fruit. There is no work that is good enough for them, so they do little or no work. They quit easily and they refuse to provide assistance to those who are given the opportunities they desire. Rather than invest in the work of God they are content to receive, to sit and enjoy. Their tithing envelopes are usually missing or of little regard.
- Lack of Restraint. All fluff Christians can often be found stirring dissension in the church. “The pastor said this.” “We should do it like that.” “Why won’t anyone ask me to do this?” They roil and rage like wild waves of the sea. Their the first to suggest a no-confidence vote for the pastor.
- Lack of Direction. Long before GPS and other tools the stars were a seaman’s method of navigation. How difficult it would be to find direction from stars that wandered around the sky from night to night. In the same way these “all fluff” Christians might be looked to as aged saints, or they might hope to disciple new believers. The result of following these “wandering stars” will be hearts that are misdirected and distracted from truth. Like the snow shovel that easily pushes light snow out of the path, Satan is able to slide away the fluffy Christian.
If we look for and test those we suspect of being “all fluff” Christians, it will not take long for their true nature to be visible to us. Notice what Jude said about the wild waves “foaming up their shame.” It is obvious to those who examine these waterless clouds, fruitless trees and wandering stars that they are just foaming against the people and ways of God. And it will bring them shame. They will not be honored for the depth. They will be shamed because of what they lack, their fluff.
When you find “all fluff” Christians, be careful how much influence you allow them to have in your life. Love them. Pray for them. But keep your distance. Those who join in with them will be dry, fruitless, lacking-self control, and spinning around lost. It is better to keep them at arms length and give preference to those who will refresh, who will invest in you and your local church, who will submit and follow, and who know that the only path is God’s path.