A good friend of mine, Matt Richard, who pastors a church in Sydney, Montana writes an amazing blog that does a good job of explaining Lutheran teachings as they applies to a real life setting. It is definitely worth checking out (his site’s address is PastorMattRichard.com). He writes from a Lutheran Brethren background but has a strong sensitivity, affinity, and confessional understanding of the teachings in the Missouri Synod. Matt and I met sometime back while taking doctoral classes at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, probably over a cup of coffee.
Matt released an entry this morning from a guest blogger that hit me squarely between the eyes, so much so I thought I would share it with you. Maybe it is because I am drinking my triple shot espresso mocha latte as I pull together this blog entry, but the words in Matt’s blog resonated with me in so many ways. I hope they challenge you as strongly as they challenged me:
My first experience with regular coffee consumption was as a senior in college. I had a full load of classes, a job, and was recently engaged – I needed more time! So I purchased a coffee maker for $15 and soon realized that one cup of coffee was equal to one hour of sleep replacement. Coffee helped me graduate from college, keep my job, and get married – not too bad.
However, looking back, I didn’t need a cup of coffee, I just needed more sleep – that was my real problem! Coffee was just a mask to cover up my real problem. Eventually, I needed to learn how to balance my life, to say “no” to some good things, and to be disciplined enough to get enough sleep to be ready for the challenges of tomorrow. Coffee fooled me into thinking everything was OK. Coffee made me numb, unable to feel the reality of my tired and worn out condition.
Whether it is a pot of coffee, a new boat, a better job, or something else, what are you using to mask and cover up your real problem? The Bible says our real, ultimate problem is that our sin has separated us from God. God is holy and perfect, we cannot stand before Him in our sinful condition. We need something to cover up our sin so that we can be in a right standing with God!
We do many things to numb our conscience to convince us that everything is OK. “I’m not as bad as that guy”, or “God loves everybody, so I must be alright”, or “I’ve tried to live a good life”. However, if your answer does not include Jesus, the Bible says it is just flat out wrong. If your answer doesn’t include Jesus, you are basically saying that Jesus died for nothing! Jesus is the only covering for your sin that God accepts. A cup of coffee might help get you through the day, but trusting in Jesus will help get you through for eternity.
We are currently in the season of the church year called Lent, which is a 40 day journey with Jesus as He makes His way to the cross where He would die, and 3 days later rise from the dead through an empty tomb. The Lenten journey points us in a very clear way to the grace and love of God as demonstrated through the complete and ultimate sacrifice of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Life is not always black and white, but rather, often flies at breakneck speed. In the midst of our dizzying pace, the cross and empty tomb is the anchor firmly set in the ground that proclaims forgiveness and hope into our life’s journey.
So the next time you grab that cup of coffee, think about what truly gets you through the day. Is it that morning cup of coffee? Is it that word of encouragement from your spouse, teacher, or coworker? Is it that Facebook post? Or are you just living for Friday’s paycheck? The truth is, it is not about the coffee. A bigger question needs to be asked, “Is there a place in our life we are numbing ourselves to a reality we don’t wish to see?” These burdens are not meant for us to carry, but rather, God encourages us through His Word to lay them at the feet of Christ. Jesus has come to take them upon Himself; that is the message of Lent and Easter: By “HIS” wounds we are healed (1 Peter 2:24). By “HIS” sacrifice on the cross our relationship with the heavenly Father is made right once again (John 14:6). By “HIS” grace His followers receive the best gift of all – eternal life – freely given but very costly, paid in full by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:1-10). Martin Luther once said, “The cross and tribulation make the Word taste sweet.” (AE 8:294) And oh, how sweet it is!
Please do not misunderstand, coffee is a wonderful, God-given gift, bestowed upon His creation from heaven itself (okay, maybe this is the coffee talking), but we must not replace it with the true source and anchor for all of life, namely God Himself! So, rather than grabbing for that extra large frapa-rapa quad-shot vanilla bean non-fat, no-whip sugar free mocha latte with chocolate shavings and caramel drizzle on top, allow God’s hands of grace to wrap themselves around your life. God is the only thing that truly sustains and feeds the soul. That is precisely what Jesus’ cross and empty tomb does in our life, it grabs us where we are and for those who believe, lavishly pours over us an extravagant grace that comes only from God Himself.
Leaning on the Rock of His grace!