Decaf Jesus

I like coffee. No, I really, really, really like coffee. Thanks to a cool phone app, I have my coffee down to a repeatable science. I can even brew it four different ways! One friend marvels at my coffee contraptions when he visits - everything from presses to plungers to drips. But I’m kind of a coffee snob, too. For this, I blame my nephew. He’s enlightened me to the better side of coffees over the past few years. And if you think I’m bad, he’s a zen master. He owns seven shops in Manhattan! You should check out Birch Coffee online or when you’re in the city. Okay, enough of the shameless plug, back to coffee!

I do love the smell of fresh ground coffee. I buy my beans whole so I can pulverize them just before brewing. But then there’s the aroma of the bean in the bag! Oh, what a glorious and heavenly therapy! I think Heaven will smell like a beautifully roasted Guatemalan blend! But I have to admit, my absolute favorite happy-place whiff of coffee is when I’m camping. Percolated over a fire, there’s just nothing that quite comes close to waking up and catching the aroma and hearing the, “blubb, blubb" of the pot.

So, when I posted on social media my new Chemex brewer a few weeks ago - graciously gifted to me by my “supplier” nephew - I also included in the photo a bag of his world-renowned decaf. Oops!

My new Chemex brewer with some lovely, gorgeous, fresh-brewed DECAF!

Yes, I drink mostly decaf now. Several years ago, when my stress level and heart-ache were at all-time highs, my brother-the-doctor strongly recommended I get off caffeine. It wasn’t a big deal for me because I primarily enjoy coffee for flavor. So, going decaf was easy - as long as I had GOOD decaf. And, thanks to my “the-first-one-is-free” dealing nephew, I have a supply line of outstanding decaf. (And by the way, those fancy, flavored whipped-cream-topped coffees aren’t coffee, they’re soft drinks for the uncommitted. As I said before, I’m a bit of a coffee snob. Again, I digress.)

But another long-time friend saw my Chemex post and chimed in with a wisecrack comment. When I saw it I laughed because it was a classic! Only he and few others would think of it. He wrote, “Decaf? That’s like Christianity without Jesus!” And I paused for a moment, in my mind, through my laughter.

Decaf? That’s like Christianity without Jesus!

Decaf Jesus. Hmmmmm. Perhaps there’s something to that; something metaphysical beyond the java. Could my friend be a hidden guru of sorts? Did he hit upon something far more contemplative than what he intended? I think so. Here’s my take on his quip.

Most people drink coffee for the caffeine, the pick-me-up in the morning or mid afternoon. They guzzle it for what it can do for them, not just the taste. Sure bad tasting coffee sucks, but I know quite a few people who drink bitter or burnt coffee just for the boost. Who the heck drinks decaf? In fact, on another social media sight, not long after my Chemex post, I read this: “Wanna hear something funny? Decaf.” I felt so wimpy when I read that. “Am I drinking a joke? Am I a drinking joke?” I thought to myself. But it sure supported what was brewing in my mind.

Wanna hear something funny? Decaf.

Decaf Jesus is a spirituality that’s there just for the pleasantries. It really doesn’t do much for us other than make us feel good. It doesn’t enliven us, doesn’t put “hair on our chests”. It’s just, well, there. It has no lasting benefits beyond the bottom of the cup. We sip it slowly and smoothly, perhaps enraptured in the experience. But after the church bells chime and the hymn is over we go right back to the same condition as we started. In fact, it never changed our condition one bit. We just had a nice moment with no transformation. That’s decaf Jesus!

But what the Bible reveals is completely different. Jesus is anything but decaf! To truly drink of Jesus is to have our entire lives sorted and washed. To become more like him and less like we were before is the journey of a life in Jesus. The end result is that we’re charged from the inside out, given a “spiritual boost” that’s supposed to last long after the bells and music.

You see, Jesus said he came not to make bad people good or good people better, but to make the dead alive! If that’s not a caffeinated view of Jesus, what is? He isn’t here just to make us feel good for the moment, but to radically transform us into what is best for today and forever. And, if you add the power of the Holy Spirit through personal surrender, that’s a double shot espresso; and, perhaps, a topic for another time. But decaf Jesus is just what my friend insinuated - pretty useless or even impossible.

I believe that most people are quite content with decaf Jesus - if they want Jesus at all. He’s a pleasant aroma, a warm moment, perhaps a wise sage, but he has no lasting impact. If we’re honest with ourselves, as my smart-cracking friend was, we’d evaluate the Jesus we’ve been drinking and quickly toss out the decaf. Spiritually, it’s a total waste of time, energy and even use of the cup!

So, although I’ll continue to sip my Birch decaf with great satisfaction, I’ll toss out decaf Jesus in a heartbeat. Give me something that will satisfy my heart and my mind. Give me something that will truly supercharge the inside and the outside of my life. Something that will challenge me to live a standard that’s above my own ability but totally possible with Jesus. Living is too short to find out at the end that our elixir of choice was ineffective in setting us free to be the best we could be. Decaf Jesus? No thanks!

So, what are you drinking?