How Coffee Bean Christians Can Change the World
Have you ever wondered what people think of Christianity when they observe your life? In the mundane, routine moments of the day, would someone glancing at you or me from across the room see a difference in us, maybe in the way we react to a rude person or how we treat a waitress or airline attendant or maybe even how we talk to members of our family? Are our lives characterized more by the fruit of the Spirit or the works of the flesh (see Gal 5:19-22)?
Does the way we live out our faith in our lowest moments such as when tragedy strikes or when death darkens our door point to the strength, hope, and joy people can experience only by knowing Christ? When we are in a season rocked by devastating natural disasters, horrible acts of violence in church houses and concert venues, and story after story about abuse against women, do Christians spread light or add to the darkness?
In the Bible, Daniel provides an excellent example for believers today about how to live out their faith in the midst of dark and challenging days.
Committing to Our Faith
Daniel 1:8a says, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” (emphasis added)
Daniel and his friends were probably around 15 years of age when they were taken captive and transported to Babylon. They were ripped from their homeland and separated from their families, then immersed in a culture completely foreign to everything they had ever known. They were forced to learn a new language, new cultural customs, and even given new names that referred to foreign gods. Everything familiar to them was stripped away! All of the events described in Daniel 1:1-7 were completely out of Daniel’s hands.
However, much can be learned from this young teenager about how to honor God in the midst of a culture that is antagonistic to your faith. Daniel made up his mind that he would not compromise or defile himself with practices, customs, and behaviors that would be displeasing to God. He was committed to honoring God.
Friends, impacting our own culture starts with a commitment to living life God’s way.
Daniel and his friends could have used their exile, distance from Jerusalem, and indeed, the destruction of their worship sanctuary as excuses for why the rules of their faith and practice no longer applied. Yet, in the years of their youth as much as in their adulthood and old age, Daniel and his companions demonstrated uncompromising faith, even at the risk of their lives (1:8; 3:18; 6:10).
God had called Israel to be a nation set apart as a witness to unbelievers, and this group of exiles determined to remain holy even as their nation was disciplined by the Babylonian conquest. Christians today are called to live holy lives in order to witness to unbelievers about the goodness and rightness of our God (Matt 5:16).
Living Out Our Faith
Years later in Daniel’s story, you find a startling admission from a pagan king to Daniel, “…but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you” (4:18).
Throughout Daniel’s journey from a young teenager to an old man, he lived without compromise as an exile in a foreign land. His life of faithful devotion gained him favor with God, and the people around him took notice. In fact, his life of integrity distinguished him from his administrative peers and garnered the respect of the ruling authorities.
Nebuchadnezzar, the first king of the Babylon that Daniel served, recognized that the “Spirit of the Holy God” was in him (4:18). Then, when Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar experienced a truly puzzling event, the queen counseled Belshazzar to consult Daniel because he was a man “in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God” (5:11). When Darius became king, “Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps [local rulers], because an excellent spirit was in him” (6:3). Over and over again, people sought out Daniel because they recognized that he was wise and the God he served was holy and powerful.
Remember, Daniel was surrounded by a people and culture that tried to get him to change his beliefs and customs. Nevertheless, instead of being conformed to the Babylonian culture, he had an impact on those around him.
Daniel’s life illustrates the difference between a potato and a coffee bean.
If you put them side by side, the potato seems like it would be stronger than the small little bean. However, when a potato is put in a pot of boiling water, the once stalwart vegetable turns mushy. The heat of the water slowly causes the potato to weaken as it soaks up the boiling water.
When you put a coffee bean in boiling water, the exact opposite happens. Those tiny, insignificant beans flavor the water and cause the clear liquid to take on the taste and smell of coffee. This is ultimately how a Christian should impact her world! No matter how heated or difficult the circumstances, God wants us to impact the culture around us so that we have the opportunity to point people to Him (Rom 12:2).
Friends, news headlines are not offering much hope right now. Las Vegas. Sutherland Springs. Mexico. Houston. Florida. Puerto Rico. Hollywood Sex Scandals. Political hypocrisy. It’s been a really dark few months.
However, you can offer true and lasting hope by pointing people to Christ. Commit to living out your faith moment by moment, regardless of the circumstances. Don’t be a potato and get mushy when things get heated and circumstances get tough. Be a coffee bean kind of Christian and “flavor” the world around you.