Bowing to the coffee god

I got a new coffeemaker. For those of you who don’t know about my relationship to coffee, this is a little like changing churches. That’s because coffee is my religion. I can say that because Christianity is not my religion. In fact, I don’t have a religion; I only have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ His Son.

But I drink coffee religiously.

Religion is ritual, habit, doing certain things to get certain results, and pleasing the acceptable god by bowing, scraping and doing all the necessary penance required by that god to please him/her/it. I have been known to bow and scrape to the coffee god, but thankfully, not the real God, because the real God does not require this.

God does desire my love and devotion, but He doesn’t want it in the form of religion. He has even been known to get upset with people who make a religion out of knowing Him. He does not want our sacrifices, our regular attendance at worship, or even the praises of our lips, if our hearts are not in it. And if our hearts are with Him, where they should be, none of these things are good for brownie points in Heaven. They may be a part of our lives, but they will flow out from us as a natural expression of a loving relationship.

Now I’ve had my old coffeemaker for at least 10 years, and this new one has a different set of rituals attached to it that I will have to adjust to. No problem. I can do this; it’s just coffee.

God, on the other hand, would not want to be a 10-year habit broken only by a new church, devotional book or pattern of personal discipline. Discipline is fine when it comes to self-control, but God would not like to be the product of discipline any more than you or I would. God doesn’t want our words, our singing, our sacrifice or our self-flagellation; He wants our hearts.

A real relationship is based on love and wanting to be with someone. That comes from the heart. And if it isn’t in your heart, no amount of religion will ever put it there.

Meanwhile, for my coffee experience, I continue to worship at the Cathedral of St. Arbucks. My coffee religion remains firmly rooted. For me, religion applies to coffee, but not to God. God is too reckless and unpredictable and glorious to fit into any religious system or practice. And aren’t you glad?

For more java related spiritual insights check out John’s book, Confessions of a Caffeinated Christian.

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9 Responses to Bowing to the coffee god

  1. Katherine Hollywood says:

    Great post. But are you going to reveal which model and brand (denomination?) coffee maker you will be worshiping with?

  2. Mark Seguin says:

    Another very good and i thought insighful also a bit funny and fun to read Catch today Pastor John and I have to commemnt on this: “God is too reckless and unpredictable and glorious to fit into any religious system or practice. And aren’t you glad?” I am about amazed daily that our Lord desires a relationship w/ me and soooooooo glad of who He is!!! 🙂
    PS Katherine I liked your question and got a good chuckle from it too….
    PSS let me plz add I find a coffee which is sold @ a discounted price, sent to my door-step and they pay me to purchase it, now that’s my type of coffee…

  3. Bob Gill says:

    Amen, brother. While I am also fairly religious about my coffee, I appreciate the real point of your note, and the words you used to clarify your outlook: “I don’t have a religion, I have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.” The coffee, and the particular coffee maker, are means to an end.

  4. John Haak says:

    For coffee lovers who are now ‘turned off’ by the bitterness that leads to Additives (ala St. Arbuck’s fame) … try the smoother, low-acid, “Cold Brewed” way. (John … as usual, as soon as you make a Big Decision, another option pops up … sorry.) I suspect there are some great analogies in here for the theme you all elaborated on but I won’t try to top any of you. Did not know about this book … looks like a winner for a gift to a friend or two. Thanks for a morning lift for my day.

  5. Ralph Gaily says:

    John…. Are you sure you want to categorize all those people who sit in all those pews and chairs around the world each week studying their Bibles together, and singing together, and hugging each other, and looking forward to seeing each other in person, and talking with each other about their lives together, and considering their common ground together as “christianity” (even if you choose to define it in your own way)….. that’s an awfully broad brush you are using to paint them. God Almighty knows the hearts of all those people…. what they think of when they sing…. what they mean when they hug each other…. their hunger and motivation when they study their Bibles… their sincerity when looking forward to seeing each other in person regularly, and talk of Life together…. and drink a cup of coffee together. You, John, sound very bitter and arrogant towards an awful lot of people you don’t know, or have ever met. Your followers will follow in your footsteps because they believe you have something special, and your advice and judgements must be accurate. “…..Christianity is not my religion. In fact I have no religion…..” most of us understand what you are trying to actually say, but your choice of words are so poor! You are dividing the Body of Christ in a gross and subtle way. Many christians experience quite a void when attempting to relate with each other digitally in cyberspace…. it lacks a lot. Stick to proclaiming the simple Gospel and let the inherent power of God’s Good News do it’s mysterious work. There is too much “you” in it today…. or, maybe you had one too many cups.

  6. Susan Snyder says:

    If you want alittle more for you coffee, try Just Coffee, or Cafe Justo from Agua Prieta, Mexico. We can order from Frontier Presbytry in Douglas, AZ. It is grown in the tradition manner, by Mexicans on their own land, then roasted n Agua Prieta and packaged before being send across to Douglas for shipment. It is every bit as tasty as Starbucks but all the profits go to the growers cooperative. I like to think the coffee is a better way to control illegal immigration by providing profitable jobs and good coffee. I am sure you can find it at your nearest Presbyterian church and also online. Give it a taste and you will wonder why you ever paid more for someone’s fancy name. Just coffee is always welcome.

  7. Peter Leenheer says:

    John thanks for using your God given creativity and bringing the gospel in such a fresh and impacting way. Jeremiah 13:1 – 12 is a story I call “God’s dirty underwear”. Boy does this bring the kids to rapt attention when I tell this bible story in Children’s Ministry. The kids never miss the point.

    It is God’s creative way of dealing with his people that keeps me totally amazed and praising his name. His Ways humble me and I love it!

  8. Mark Seguin says:

    Dear Susan Snyder plz consider given the web site where “just coffee” can be ordered.
    PS Peter Leenheer i’ll add an Amen to this: “It is God’s creative way of dealing with his people that keeps me totally amazed and praising his name. His Ways humble me and I love it!”

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