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God, Coffee, and Caffeine

Is This God or Is This Coffee?

This article has a silly premise but a serious application. It starts with a question to all you coffee lovers: has anyone ever had seriously good morning after a cup of coffee and secretly wondered to yourself: “Is this the Holy Spirit or is this the coffee?!” That surge of generosity you feel… is it supernatural energy from God or maybe just the double espresso from Starbucks kicking in?

Surely I’m not alone in feeling like some of my best energy in the day comes immediately after I’ve had my morning coffee. People who regularly spend time to seek God or pray in the morning may find a correlation between their daily cup of joe and their capacity for intercessory prayer. So how do we tell the difference between being filled by God’s spirit versus being filled with caffeine?

“Coffee With God”

I know, I know. It’s a stereotype, but when I hear “quiet time with God” I immediately picture latte art in a ceramic coffee mug next to your bible and journal at a local coffee shop. Or, a freshly brewed coffee pot (or pourover) in your home while you put on Christian worship music and then go hug your puppy before you read the word of God.

I can’t deny that it’s true. The days where I’ve had my morning coffee and woken up early enough to have some journaling or devotional time are usually the days where I feel most inspired, joyful to be alive, and ready to share love with the rest of the world.  

But if you’re anything like me, there’s always a skeptical (or maybe just practical) side to my faith. There’s a part of me that questions whether people’s experiences of God are “real” or wishful imaginations. Do we read too much into things? Do Christians project spiritual interpretations onto physiological experiences when they have “breakthroughs,” “inner healing,” or “peace from God?”

God Is Not Only “Spiritual”

I’ve slowly come to recognize that God is as physical as He is spiritual.

What does “spiritual” even mean? When I say spiritual, most people think of meditative posture, energy and consciousness, and anything that exists apart from the physical realm.  But if we’re trying to make the distinction between physiological (what people might be tempted to categorize as “real”) and spiritual (what people might be tempted to categorize as “perceived”) experiences, we may have a warped understanding of God in this world.

“How’s your spiritual life?” is usually a Christian innuendo for “tell me about your participation in church, whether or not you’ve been praying consistently, and if you’ve been thinking about anything Bible-related.”

A normal response to “how is your spiritual life” might be the answer, “I’ve been feeling mad at God.” Or maybe “I’ve been feeling disconnected recently.” Emotions and abstract thoughts are okay. An atypical response to the question, “how is your spiritual life,” would be the answer, “My back’s been killing me” or “I really enjoyed weeding out the garden yesterday.”

Why is it that we tend to separate God out from the physical world? Our bodies, minds, and spirits are intimately connected, and Jesus himself preaches a physical resurrection. God is just as attuned to your hurting back muscles after a weeding session as he is about your journaled prayers and what you learned from church this past Sunday.

The point is, we experience God when we interact with His world. We’re experiencing God when we see beauty in nature, connect with the raw emotions conveyed through music, or delight in good food and good company.The Holy Spirit is not relegated to an alternate dimension. God exists outside the theological, philosophical, and intellectual boxes that we put him in.

God gave us this physical world. God also gave us physics, biology, chemistry… and yes, by some divine inspiration, God also included the gift of caffeine molecules that exist so abundantly in the coffee beans that we use to create our delicious coffee and espresso beverages. We see and experience God through his Creation.

So… is this God or is this the coffee?

The answer is yes. 

Jesus Was Material and Physical… Just Like Coffee

There are all sorts of funky things going on in the Bible regarding God and the physical world.

The clearest example of this also happens to be the weirdest (and most central) tenet to Christianity: Jesus Christ was both fully God and fully man. Huh? That’s as paradoxical as it gets.

I’m thinking about all the miracles that Jesus performed that included physical action: spitting in someone’s eye, eating bread, commanding people to walk, fishing, making wine… you get the idea.

So in hindsight, where did I even get the engrained notion that caffeine or even manmade chemical compounds are somehow outside of God’s domain?

If God chose to enact salvation and the beginning of restoration to the world through one man who lived in Judea two thousand years ago, why don’t I have a category for God wishing to demonstrate his presence to me through a hearty sandwich nourishing my body, an energizing or revelatory conversation with a friend, or the sense of peace or relieved anxiety that comes from receiving prayer?

Nature is rich, complex, and mysterious. As a limited human being I don’t ever expect to “figure out” God and have a comprehensive understanding of the ways he manifests in our sensory world.  

But coffee? Yes, I say that God’s spirit can certainly be exemplified through coffee.

Should Christians Drink Coffee?

I know some Christian traditions and other religious sects abstain from caffeine or alcohol, and I respect that. Coffee or any consumption of caffeine in excess is certainly not healthy. I’m not here to give a definitive answer on whether or not Christian should drink coffee, but rather invite you to consider how we view God in our physical and material world today.

Regarding whether Christians should or shouldn’t drink coffee, there are many perspectives out there. I appreciate Phil Chan’s thoughts on being a caffeine free Christian, and “God Caffeinated His World” is another article that lends some additional thought.

What do you think about God, coffee, and caffeine?

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One Comment

  1. Scott D Scott D

    I love this! I came here because I typed “Caffeine brings me closer to God’ into the www.

    I agree! Why can’t I use caffeine to help my walk? It’s a “safe” drug in moderation.

    Anyhow, great article. Thanks,
    Scott D.

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