Sunday, September 12, 2010

Caffeinated Christianity

There is no doubt that we live in a coffee crazed society. In fact, the United States is the #1 consumer of coffee in the entire world. In our country it all started back in the days of the revolutionary war when patriots switched from tea to coffee as part of the whole “Boston Tea Party” revolt against the taxation of England. And now today there is a coffee shop of some kind on seemingly every corner. Over the last two weeks I found myself in 5 different airports – Harrisburg, Chicago, Denver, Colorado Springs, and Dallas. If I had a $20 bill for every Starbucks or other coffee shop I passed walking from flight to flight in those 5 airports alone I would have no problem paying for both of my kid’s college tuition.

Coffee has become a sub-culture in our society. In fact, I have to admit that I get kind of nervous every time I walk into one of these beverage houses. Why? Because I don’t understand the coffee lingo. I’m still trying to figure out why a small coffee at Starbucks is called a “tall”. And when I listen to people in line in front of me I have absolutely no idea what they are saying. How many words does it take to describe a cup of coffee? It is like they are speaking in a foreign language. And then I feel really stupid when it’s my turn and all I want is a simple cup of decaf coffee. I always feel like everyone in the shop is looking at me thinking, “What a loser.”

But that’s me – I am simply a decaf coffee drinker. Nothing fancy – just decaf. Now some of you think that decaffeinated coffee is nothing more than hot brown water. But now that I am creeping up in years, I have to admit that caffeine can make it hard for me to get to sleep at night. I think I caught that from my wife. All you have to do is say the word caffeine around her and she’s up all night long. By the way, 75% of all caffeine consumed in America is consumed through coffee. Oh, that reminds me. What do you call a cow that gives birth? De-calf-inated.

For many, caffeine is relied upon for energy and alertness. That got me thinking about we as followers of Jesus. Maybe the truth is that many of us have settled for living “decaf” Christian lives. Maybe what we really need is to become more alert – more energized – to live out more of a caffeinated style of Christianity. I believe that is what Jesus is describing in Mark 8:34. It is a very pointed verse of Scripture. In it Jesus really raises the bar when it comes to following Him. And well He should. Before giving these words, He has just told His disciples that He was going to die. Now, immediately after that in this verse He calls them, and us, to step up from living a decaf type of Christianity to living out more of a caffeinated Christianity. Here is what Scripture says,

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”

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