Those who know me well know that I don’t like the taste of coffee. It’s hot. It’s bitter. It’s nasty!
The aroma, though, is wonderful. I love the smell of fresh ground coffee beans. There’s something soothing and inviting about it.
But not the taste.
Now, I do drink it at work, but only with about 50 gallons of Coffee-Mate’s French Vanilla or Italian Sweet Crème creamer and 100 pounds of sugar per cup just to mask that nasty flavor. Okay, maybe I exaggerate some. Some.
But regular, normal coffee? No, thank you!
Today, as I smelled the aroma of my French Vanilla and sugar beverage (er, syrup with a hint of coffee), I realized that many people – believers and non-believers alike – approach Christianity the same way:
We enjoy the aroma of Christianity, but we don’t want to drink it.
We Love the Aroma of Christianity . . .
Smell is a very powerful sense. According to Psychology Today, the sense of smell will trigger memories and emotions faster than the other senses (of course, whoever said that has never watched the “Baby Mine” segment of Dumbo).
Smell is powerful, and aromas can impact our thoughts and feelings so as to attract or repel us. Coffee, for many, is one of the more pleasant aromas. It soothes the mind and, at least for me, makes me feel warm and relaxed.
The beauty of the aroma of coffee is I can enjoy the pleasant aspects without actually having to participate by drinking. The same applies to how we often approach Christianity.
Many people enjoy the benefits and pleasant aspects of Christianity (the aroma). We enjoy worship that appeals to our musical preferences. We attend churches that make us feel at ease. We listen to preachers who make us feel warm and uplifted.
But actually participate? Open up and take a drink? Forget it!
. . . But Don’t Expect Us to Drink!
As I stated earlier, I don’t like the bitter, nasty taste of coffee. When I drink it, I add a lot of other stuff in order to hide the true taste and make it more palatable.
Christianity – the way we sometimes treat it – has a lot in common with coffee.
The Christian life isn’t always easy. Contrary to the claims of prosperity gospel false teachers, Jesus never promised his followers a life of luxury and worldly ease.
Rather, Jesus said that the Christian life would be difficult (or bitter, in java jingo). We’ll face a hostile world, encounter economic and social hardships, and sometimes risk our lives just to be Christians.
God often confronts us with realities and truths we don’t want to accept. The things that the Bible teaches about sin and our fallen nature can be tough to swallow. The world wants to tell us how good we are, but Scripture reminds us of how sinful we are and how much we need God. The Bible also tells us how good God is and about Jesus’ loving sacrifice on the cross.
Ministry and living out our faith often require hard work. It’s not flying around in private jets, living in mansions, and wearing expensive clothes. Ministry is caring for the heartbroken, the sinful, and the downtrodden people around us. Ministry is loving those we like and those we don’t like. Ministry is tough.
Christianity can seem bitter and nasty.
Many, therefore, choose not to participate (drink). And when they have to drink, they do with Christianity what I do to coffee: add lots of other flavors to mask the unwanted real taste.
A little Word of Faith heresy here, some prosperity gospel heresy there, mix in some humanist and Eastern philosophies, and – voilà – the perfect tasty, sweet, Christ-less Christianity! Oh, we’ll call it Christian because there are some remnants of Christianity. But in reality, it’s mostly tasty additives that have nothing to do with Christ.
Real Christianity, though, with all its bitterness and unpleasantries? For many the answer is a resounding “No!”
Like many others, I enjoy the aroma of coffee, but don’t like to drink it. When I do drink coffee, I add enough creamer and sugar to mask its true flavors.
We often approach Christianity the same way: we enjoy some of the pleasantries (the aroma), but refuse to participate (drink). And when we have to drink, we add lots of non-Christian extras to cover the true Christianity.
Each one of us, in some way or another, has been guilty of wanting the smell, but not the taste. Each one of us has, at some point, added things to make Christianity more comfortable.
How have you tried to enjoy the aroma, but not actually have to drink from the cup? When you do drink, how do try to mask the taste to make it more pleasant?
Comment below and let me know.