by Mike Dennis
I’ve struggled with my podcast this week. I’ve written, rewritten, edited, etc., I wanted to try and say something cool about a verse that has haunted me for years. But I guess I just need to write and put it out there.
Pastor Matt Chandler of Village Church once quipped that there are certain Bible verses which will never be printed on a coffee cup. This, of course, got my slightly warped mind going.
Have you ever looked at “Christian Coffee cups”? You’ll find them at your nearest Christian book store along with all of the Christian “gear“. You know, like t-shirts and jewelry, and other fashionable “witness-wear“. One store even sells breath mints called “Testa-mints“, I suppose to avoid offending people with with halitosis while sharing the Roman Road to salvation.
There are various kinds of things printed on these unique java-containers; “All I need is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus“, and “Not today, Devil!” Nothing intimidates the prince of darkness like a caffeine-fueled spiritual warrior with threats emblazoned on a ceramic cup!
Coffee-cup Bible verses usually fall into two categories; comfort or encouragement. “Be still and know….”, or “His mercies are new every morning“, always printed in soothing fonts. I saw one boldly declaring for all to see, “Y’all need Jesus!”, which I’m sure has been effective in leading many to the faith. OK, I love coffee, but really?
You won’t won’t find certain verses on a coffee cup, t-shirt, or bumper-sticker because they’re just not marketable. I think that John 15:18 is one of these. Jesus, while prepping his closest friends and followers for his dreaded departure, gave them this piece of advice; “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.”
This verse is never included anyone’s list of “precious Bible promises” It isn’t soothing or comforting. But then, Jesus wasn’t trying to soothe or comfort the disciples when he said this. He was trying to prepare them for the future.
In my mind, our American Christianity is shallow. Unlike other places where persecution is the norm and just expected, we (me) have done everything we could to make the faith more attractive, so we try to soothe and comfort people with coffee cup theology. The problem is, when non-coffee cup stuff happens, many give up. “I didn’t sign up for this”.
The problem is, when non-coffee cup stuff happens, many give up. “I didn’t sign up for this”.
So let me prepare you a bit. If you decide you are going to follow Jesus, you will be hated the same way he was. You will try to help people and be accused of hurting them. You will love people deeply only to have them abandon you and hate you. You will be left out, left behind, and left bleeding.
Want to hear something weird? Once after receiving a beating, some of his followers gave praise to God! They praised because God had considered them worthy to suffer like Jesus did. You want to be identified with Jesus? It won’t be because of your coffee cup, or what it says on your t-shirt. It will be by how much you love people, and at times how much you are hated by them. But remember, they hated him first. ~RMD~