Do You Really Want that Soft Drink?
Is God interested in what you eat and drink?
How should you view soft drinks?
Do Gods principles deal with this matter?
Soft drinks have become one of the dietary obsessions in the United States. And this passion for Coke, Pepsi, 7-Up, Dr. Pepper, and other soft drinks has been exported around the world. Tokyo, London, Quito, Johannesburg, Cairo, and Moscow drink these carbonated beverages just as they do in America! Consider Coca-Cola. This drink (better known as Coke) is found in more than 200 different countries! (en.wikipedia.org/wiki /Coca-Cola)
Coke was originally intended to be a medicine when it was first marketed in the latter 1800s. It soon spread to the regular consumer market and this brand dominated the soft drink business during the entire twentieth century. Now it is sold in different varieties, including Diet Coke, Diet Coke Caffeine-Free, Coca-Cola Cherry, Coca-Cola Zero, and Coca-Cola Vanilla.
Why do so many people find the taste and experience of Coke and other soft drinks so irresistible? It must have something to do with the special taste, the addiction of the caffeine, the high-sugar content, and the carbonation. The flavor of Coke is proverbial. Yet very few of the Coke employees really know the precise formulation, other than a few executives. They keep it as a carefully guarded secret. Whatever the attraction, millions upon millions have become addicted to this drink.
In 1942, the average person drank 60 12-ounce cans of soft drink each year. Since that time, there has been a 900% increase in soft drink consumption! (suewidemark.freeservers. com/liquid_candy.htm) Today, most people drink these liquids and the price is astronomical!
Carbonated soft drinks account for more than 27 percent of Americans’ beverage consumption. In 1997, Americans spent over $54 billion to buy 14 billion gallons of soft drinks. That is equivalent to more than 576 12-ounce servings per year or 1.6 12-ounce cans per day for every man, woman, and child. That is also more than twice the amount produced in 1974. Artificially sweetened diet sodas account for 24% of sales, up from 8.6% in 1970. (suewidemark. freeservers. com/liquid_candy.htm)
The use of soft drinks has risen sharply over the past decades. One report tells of the plans to increase the sales even more:
The soft-drink industry is aiming for continued expansion in coming years. Thus, the president of Coca-Cola bemoans the fact that his company accounts for only 1 billion out of the 47 billion servings of all beverages that earthlings consume daily. The company’s goal is to:
make Coca-Cola the preferred drink for any occasion, whether it’s a simple family supper or a formal state dinner. . . . [T]o build pervasiveness of our products, we’re putting ice-cold Coca-Cola classic and our other brands within reach, wherever you look: at the supermarket, the video store, the soccer field, the gas station everywhere. (suewidemark.freeservers. com/liquid_candy.htm)
Nutritionists accuse the soft drink producers of harming the American public, especially impressionable children. These health dangers are varied:
Since studies indicate “soda and sweetened drinks are the main source of calories in [the] American diet”, most nutritionists advise that Coca-Cola and other soft drinks can be harmful if consumed excessively, particularly to young children whose soft drink consumption competes with, rather than complements, a balanced diet. Studies have shown that regular soft drink users have a lower intake of calcium, magnesium, ascorbic acid, riboflavin, and vitamin A. The drink has also aroused criticism for its use of caffeine, which can cause physical dependence. A link has been shown between long-term regular cola intake and osteoporosis in older women (but not men). This was thought to be due to the presence of phosphoric acid, and the risk was found to be same for caffeinated and noncaffeinated colas, as well as the same for diet and sugared colas (en. wikipedia.org/ wiki/Coca-Cola).
What does Coke really contain? A can of Coke contains 10 teaspoons of sugar and 140 calories! It now contains high-fructose corn syrup, something that nutritionists lament. Some nutritionists caution against consumption of HFCS because it may aggravate obesity and type-2 diabetes more than cane sugar. Also, a 2009 study found that almost half of tested samples of commercial HFCS contained mercury, a toxic substance (Ibid.). Coke also contains caffeine, which can be a problem for some people.
One more criticism was presented by CBS News:
For regular soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:
· 26 percent for up to 1/2 can each day
· 30.4 percent for 1/2 to one can each day
· 32.8 percent for 1 to 2 cans each day
· 47.2 percent for more than 2 cans each day.
For diet soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:
· 36.5 percent for up to 1/2 can each day
· 37.5 percent for 1/2 to one can each day
· 54.5 percent for 1 to 2 cans each day
· 57.1 percent for more than 2 cans each day.
For each can of diet soft drink consumed each day, a person’s risk of obesity went up 41 percent. (cbsnews.com/stories/ 2005/06/13/health/ webmd/
Coca-Cola company has received severe criticism from different sources. Coca-Cola has been criticized for alleged adverse health effects, its aggressive marketing to children, exploitative labor practices, high levels of pesticides in its products, building plants in Nazi Germany which employed slave labor, environmental destruction, monopolistic business practices, and hiring paramilitary units to murder trade union leaders (Ibid.).
How is the Christian to view soft drinks, such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, and the other choices? A number of different principles have a bearing on what we think of soft drinks.
Ask yourself these pointed questions:
1. Would Jesus drink Coke? Scripture says that Jesus left us an example for you to follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). We are to walk in the same manner as He walked (1 John 2:6). No one can imagine Jesus buying a Coke and drinking this harmful beverage. Then why should we do what Jesus wouldnt do?
2. Would drinking a Coke be part of the world system? We are all aware that the world is an enemy of the follower of Christ. John warns us, Do not love the world nor the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15). He then defines the world: For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever (vv. 16-17; note also James 1:27; 4:4; Romans 12:1-2). It takes little imagination to understand how Coke-drinking can be an expression of the lust of the flesh and eyes and stimulates the boastful pride of life.
3. Would it involve a wise use of moneyor a waste of money? We understand, from a web search, that a Coke can cost $1.00 to $2.00, but as high as $4.00 to $5.00 in special places. Would this really be a wise purchase? Is it wise and godly to spend $1.00 for something that has no nutritional value but instead has a health-destroying effect? That would amount to $365 a yearfor a worthless drink! And if we are speaking of $2.00 each, that would be $730 a year. If one drinks two cans of soft drink a day, the yearly expense would be shockingly high! God gives us only a limited amount of funds and we are to use it with care. In a context of using money for Gods glory, Jesus declared, He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much (Luke 16:10). If one is unfaithful in the use of the very little thing of wasting money on a soft drink, God says that we are really unfaithful and unrighteous in much.
4. Should we really harm our body? Earlier we noticed the criticisms that nutritionists have leveled against the consumption of soft drinks. Does this concern you? Paul says, Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1). If you are a Christian, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19). Remember, you have been bought with a pricethe life of Christthus you should glorify God in your body (v. 20). Can we really abuse our body with soft drinks or any other harmful substance and claim to be presenting our body as a sacrifice to God? Can we recognize our body as Gods temple and still mistreat it with soft drinks or the hundreds of other harmful foods common in our consumer world?
5. Can you be a good example to others and still consume soft drinks? We must be a good example before others of how a follower of Jesus Christ should live. Can you give such an example to others if they observe you drinking a Coke, a Pepsi, or a Dr. Pepper? Paul writes, Show yourself an example of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:12). We should be worthy example of believers to unbelievers and also to believers themselves. In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech (Titus 2:7-8). Lets strive to be a perfect example before others of what pleases God.
6. Does consumption of soft drinks help or harm others? Scripture says, Love does no wrong to a neighbor (Romans 13:10). We also read, Always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people (1 Thessalonians 5:15). Therefore, God wants us to always do good to people and never do wrong. When you use soft drinks, could you be harming others by using money that could be used for anothers good? Could you be providing a poor example before them? Could you lead them to buy a Coke and therefore waste their own money?
7. Is Coke-drinking associated with other health-destroying habits? If you know a person who is very concerned about his or her health, would you ever imagine that person being addicted to soft drinks? Of course not. Generally, when one drinks Pepsi and Sprite, he isnt very concerned about other aspects of nutrition either or health in general.
8. Do soft drinks lead you into other harmful ways? Some activities are associated with other activities. Although this is not a completely accurate view in all circumstances, it probably is a lot easier for the Coke-drinker to use tobacco, to eat harmful fast foods, and live a more loose life of carelessness in other areas.
9. Would drinking Coke and other such drinks lead to a disciplined way of life? We know that the Spirit produces the fruit of self-control (Galatians 5:23). Does one who strives for self-control want to succumb to soft-drinks? We are not to be in bondage to anythingincluding what we consume (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:12; 2 Peter 2:19; Proverbs 5:21-23). Paul said, I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27). If we conscientiously discipline our body, will we make a practice of consuming soft drinks?
10. Is there anything good in the consumption of soft drinks? Quite honestly, if one were lost in the Sahara Desert and all he had to drink was a case of Coke, it probably would be life-saving to use the substance. But other than such an extreme situation, is there any good at all in this harmful habit? Paul says, Not all things are profitable (1 Corinthians 6:12b; cf. 10:23-24). If taking soft-drinks is not profitable, it is probably best to avoid it.
11. Is it really wise to try to influence others by using Coke? Some people may think that a Christian should use soft drinks so that unbelievers may know that we are not radicals or misfits. They may excuse the practice by saying, I want them to know that Im just like them. Im one of the boys. I eat and drink the same things they do! It is commendable that one wants to influence the unsaved for their good (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23), but this is not the way to do it. We should let others know that our lifestyle is entirely different from the unbelievers around us. If there is every a time to choose to be distinctive it is in what you drink, what you eat, what you wear, what you read, and where you go (cf. 1 Peter 3:16; 4:1-7; Matthew 5:14-16).
12. Would you want to buy a Coke if Jesus Christ were with you? It can sometimes make us more careful if we consciously remember that the Lord is with us. Would you take Jesus to the soft drink vending machine as you pay for a can? We need to remember that Jesus is with us! He promised, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). Remember His presence and this will change your eating and drinking practices.
13. Would this violate any aspect of true love? Paul wrote, Let all that you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14). Is it loving to take your $1.00 or $2.00 and waste it on a worthless beverage when there are millions of children and adults languishing in dire poverty and wont live another day without something to eat? Is it really loving for you to take $2.00 for yourself when that same amount could pay for ten Christian booklets that show the way of Christ to others?
14. Would using Coke be glorifying to God? The Bible says, Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Do you eat and drink to Gods gloryor is this far from your mind when you drink something? We are to glorify God in our body, and this includes all that we do with our body (6:20). How is it possible to glorify God when we consume soft drinks?
Hopefully these principles will prick our conscience and cause us to ask whether it is wise and honorable to live like others around us. When you see your fellow-workers at the vending machine, do you join with them and deposit your money for a Coke or Pepsi? Do you live your life just as they do?
I had never been much of a Coke-drinker during my teen years, but occasionally I would drink one. Finally, when I was about twenty or twenty-one years of age, I renounced soft drinks and every other junk food of which I was aware. You can do the same! Be willing to live a different and distinctive life, not one that just follows the crowd in doing foolish things Titus 3:3), like falling for the fast food and Coke way of life, but one that does what is right and wise. Now is the time for you to seek Gods will in this matter, for the one who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:17).