coffee in church

image courtesy of

I’m a legalist… Yeah, if you know me, you know I loathe legalism and struggle to grant grace to legalists… But in my flesh, even without trying, I fall into its ugly vat, mixing and simmering with the rest of the poison stew, waiting to boil over and scorch everything in its maniacal path.

I make little rules for myself to live by, rules regarding my religion or my relationship with God. I live my little internal rules trying to show reverence to the One I serve, but they’re rules all the same. They start with a striving heart, but with the wrong source of power.

One of my Pharisaical rules is when praying before or even sometimes during sleep, after the prayer, “Thou must open thine eyes, at least for a split second, to signal the end of thy prayer and the beginning of sleep… Lest thou be tempted to fall asleep or mix prayer and sleep.”

Does that sound a little goofy? Yeah, I agree. Although I started following my internal rule with a pure heart, it’s gone beyond heart and spirit to flesh. It’s hard not to be a legalist in this flesh. It’s seems were prone to rely on our flesh instead of the power of the One that has given us power over it.

We take short cuts… We think we’ll just do the right thing before God to appease Him. I wonder how disrespected He must feel when we treat Him like a neighbor? “How you doin”? the obligatory greeting to the neighbor, friend, or co-worker, then the obligatory greeting to God who sustains the cosmos at every second of every day.

We tend to use God’s gift of free will to take over His role … It might fool our neighbor, but it’s not fooling God.Β We’re good at making up rules, not quite as good at keeping them, but even worse at living the rules in our hearts instead of our bodies.

Some years ago we started to see people bring the Fru-fru-lah-lah Starbucks coffee drinks into church service. It’s become common place now in the church. My first reaction was fury. I felt like they were breaking God’s rules in the church, His sanctuary. I even asked my wife, “Whatta they think this is, a show”? – “Sucking on the whip cream, tipping their head back at the end of the cup to get the last drop! Like this is the Matinee or something”!

Oh yeah, I can spot a rule breaker a mile away… I just can’t spot the heartless hypocritical accuser quite as easily… Maybe I should have my wife bring a pocket mirror to show me my reflection once in awhile…

While I don’t feel comfortable drinking coffee in church, doesn’t mean others can’t seek, worship, and honor God while they have a cup of coffee. After all, He writes His laws in our hearts and I’m not so sure He doesn’t change the insignificant rules slightly for all of us for a divine purpose only He knows.

It’s easy to pick and choose rules, even Bible verses to make our case… If our case isn’t made in selfless sacrifice and honor before God, then it’s made in the flesh… and those rules can lead to even more ridiculous rules…

Like opening your eyes for a split second to separate a prayer from sleep…

Good grief…