• Hughson T. Ong

Faith and Coffee Craving

Coffee is a beverage millions of people drink and enjoy. It now rivals tea as the most popular beverage in the world next to water. The number of people who drink #coffee continues to climb. In 2002, about 2.25 billion cups of coffee were consumed daily, and today this number has grown to approximately 400 billion cups!

Here in Canada, coffee is the most popular beverage for the 16-year old-and-above population (even more popular than tap water they say!), with an average consumption of about 2.8 cups a day. One medical study shows drinking 3-4 cups of coffee a day can lower the risk of “several specific cancers and neurological, metabolic, and liver conditions…and [is] more likely to benefit health than harm.” But I think we can all agree that we drink coffee for the taste and not for the health benefits.

I crave for coffee too. My day begins with a cup of my usual pour-over dark roast or a Maxwell House Keurig coffee. I’ll probably have another cup or two by lunchtime and a few more in the afternoon. And contrary to the drink many people avoid shortly before bedtime, I sometimes drink coffee in order to sleep. As I think more about it, it seems that I really am physically and mentally dependent on this substance—a good addiction (I hope!) with some amazing health benefits.

So, you might be asking why I’m bringing up the issue of coffee craving in relation to faith. I recently discovered that our craving for coffee (or anything we depend a lot on to get through the day) can be used to measure how passionate we are for our faith in Jesus. I say “passion for our faith” because too often we simply equate having faith in Christ with being passionate about the faith we have in Christ.

Craving for Coffee versus Passion for Faith

People, and so Christians as well, can easily crave for coffee, but find it difficult to be passionate about their faith. In John 2:17, after Jesus drove out the moneychangers in the temple, the disciples recalled the psalmist words, “Zeal for my house will consume me” (Ps. 69:9). They witnessed vividly the psalmist’s declaration through Jesus’ passion for preserving the purity of the temple. As I meditated on this verse the other day, it prompted me to ask myself these questions.

Why can’t I start my day without having my first cup of coffee, but can easily go about without having read the word of God in the morning?

Why can’t I crave for prayer and spiritual conversations as much as I crave for coffee?

Sometimes I find that I even have to explain my beliefs cautiously (even hesitantly at times), when faith should be shared in a simple and straightforward manner. No matter what reasons we give to justify the ways we share our faith today, the truth is, we are just not as bold and zealous as we should be. Especially now in our post-postmodern society, we're afraid to speak openly about what we strongly believe in for all sorts of social, political, and practical reasons.

Jesus’ Passion for His Faith

Jesus’ passion for fulfilling the will of God, which included safeguarding the sanctity of his father’s house, was the one thing that consumed him throughout his lifetime. In fact, this temple-clearing incident in John 2:13-17 is so crucial and important in the life and ministry of Jesus that all four Gospel writers mention this event.

Most people, even biblical scholars, often focus on the historical implication of this incident on the reasons for Jesus’ crucifixion—so much that they lose sight of the fact that Jesus’ zeal for holiness was a direct result of his faith. Because of his passion for what he believed in, he didn’t hesitate to drive away the buyers and sellers from the temple. How about us? Could we say that we would do the same if we are put in such a situation?

This is something worth thinking about. Our craving for coffee (or whatever we could substitute for it) is both a reminder and measure for how passionate we are with the faith that we have in Jesus. Whatever occupies our life today, along with the things we enjoy and love to do, should not replace our passion for our faith.