A Horrible Metaphor



It is widely known that I love coffee. Love is perhaps the wrong word—I adore coffee. And not just any coffee, mind you, that commercial stuff most of you drink is not to touch my lips. I have to be hard pressed to swallow the stale, flat, and burned remains of a once-proud coffee bean. My morning brew is home roasted. I manage the whole process, from the green bean to the shimmering cup. I only drink fresh, superior grade, specialty coffee. Yes, I am a coffee snob, and I am gleefully unrepentant about it.

And yet coffee consistently fails to provide me with good teaching material. As metaphors go, it is quite horrible. Almost everything true in the world of coffee is contrary to what is true in the spiritual realm. Let me illustrate my point with some coffee truisms:

  1. Origin determines the finish
    The region where the coffee grows determines the taste in the cup. Levels of acidity, sugars, etc. are all a result of the soil and altitude. This is why Kenyan coffee is so different from Guatemalan coffee.

Spiritually, this is all wrong. Kenyans may look different to Guatemalans, but “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:26–29) It is encounter, not origin that determines the finish.

  1. Environmental variables affect the outcome
    The ambient temperature, the fluctuations in electrical current, and the current humidity all affect the roasting cycle. The environment makes all the difference to the end result.

Again, this is all wrong. The variables of life do not threaten the outcome for the believer. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38–39) Our lives may seem chaotic, but the end is sure.

  1. Consistency is impossible
    Roasting is a temperamental business. Even when using the same bean with a tested roast profile, the outcome is always uncertain. There simply are no guarantees and consistency is all but impossible.

And again, this is all wrong. When faith leads us into a relationship with God, his continued involvement ensures our ultimate perfection. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 5:23) It is the Spirits restorative presence within us that ensures our ultimate perfection.

As a metaphor for redeeming grace, coffee fails miserably. But it can serve as an example of God’s common grace. In a frequently bitter world, my morning cup gives me a momentary foretaste of my future joy.


24 thoughts on “A Horrible Metaphor

  1. While we are not on the same ‘snobbery’ level, tim and I are quite addicted to our cappucino maker–to the point that regular coffee seems bland, so we do know how you feel! As for the coffee-metaphor issue, you did really well ! It brings to mind that while we are all the same in His eyes, we are all specifically affected by the same things that coffee is sensitive to…environment, temperature (social and emotional), etc. How precious is His grace that accommodates all of our variations and vagaries!

  2. I too love my coffee 365 days a year, morning – noon – or night. And so thankful to
    personally know my Jesus 365 days a year, morning – noon and night 24/7. BE BOLD!

  3. coffee snobs who are unrepentantly proud of their roasts, toasts, and regional flair….should share with such glee. haha! I’m having trouble coming up with a connection with the dreadful bagged stale coffee I brew and then add few inches of flavored creamer….besides every bit of my coffee routine is rooted in poor choices? :)

  4. If you love coffee, then have I got a book for you! Its called “The Gospel according to Starbucks” Living with a Grande Passion. A brew for the soul, it is full of coffee metaphors. The author, Leonard Sweet, explains how your local Starbucks is the business-world equivalent of the irrestible experience God invites us to enjoy, a life you’d “gladly stand in line for.” He discusses how we as Christians can live with EPIC passion (Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich, Connecting). Sprinkled thruout the book are “Grounds of Truth” “Brewed for Thought” questions to ask, along with interesting coffee facts. A Questions for Coaching and Conversation section is included at the end.
    Eugene–I’ll be glad to lend it to you.

      • We can be a fragrance or good aromia (like special coffee) to Him by making the knowledge of Christ known everywhere … II Corinths.2: 14-16 and if I understand this correctly,” supreme” is not out of the ordinary for our position in Christ ….
        John 10:34

  5. Nothing like a Coke Zero to get me ready for the day God prepared. Theology: God made us all unique. Ephesians 2:10

  6. Ok I’ll admit it. I don’t like coffee. Maybe it’s because Ecuador isn’t known for it’s coffee… Yeah I can use that as an excuse. BUT I love the smell! May we give off such a scent as Christ-ians that the world is attracted to who we are (hidden in Christ) that they can also be consumed by God.

    • Alaina, how terrific it is to have you khaluma with us. I do hope my favorite missionaries in Ecuador are well. Perhaps if you had a cup of Kenyan Nyeri you would come to appreciate coffee.

  7. Great coffee is dark, additive and hot just like hell! We are drawn to the dark, additive and hot side of the Devil every moment of our lives. Praise God for Jesus!

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