Spiritualizing Coffee?

I have a coffee mug that reminds me that today was made by the Lord, and I should rejoice in it. It was a gift. It’s a nice cup and all, but I am bothered when I walk into a so-called Christian bookstore and find oodles of everyday, common paraphernalia spiritualized with quaint sayings, even Scripture.  Christian bookstores are supposed to sell books about Christianity, not sanctify bracelets, gum, and coffee mugs. They are common, not holy…and that’s okay. Earlier I wrote about the church, where Christ redemptively rules in his spiritual kingdom. What is frustrating for the Christian is Monday through Saturday. On Sunday we have a taste of our eschatological future and are given a benediction to return to Christ’s common, civil kingdom. In a way, it’s like Moses walking down the mountain. There is a great tension as believers and unbelievers work together in God’s civil kingdom because we have two different goals. A Christian aims to glorify God in all that they do; an unbeliever works for their own glory. Yet God has willed that we work together in his common kingdom.  Scripture speaks of Christians being sojourners, pilgrims in this world, as we wait for the world to come (1 Pet. 2:11; Heb. 11:13). In this way, we are much like the captive Israelites living in Babylon. Jeremiah sent them a letter speaking for the Lord: Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace (Jer. 29:5-7). Like the captives from Jerusalem, we know that God’s children have a future land we call home that is much different from the culture we live in now. But we also know that we are going to be here for a while and we are right where God wants us to be. Although the world as we now know it is temporary, we are to be good stewards in the place God has put us. Living as salt and light in the world can be very challenging, as we are being sanctified ourselves. I can use the reminder that Ps. 118:24 gives me, from my Bible. You see, the gospel message challenges us to much more than slapping a trite Christian ditty on a coffee cup. And even engraving Scripture across it does not make my latte holy. My morning cup of mudd is common, and I thoroughly enjoy it as a blessing of God’s common grace. My cup doesn’t need to be made by a Christian for me to feel good about drinking out of it either. Our unbelieving neighbors are also well equipped for cultural work. I think that one reason that we believers want to label our common activities as “Christian,” is because we long for that day when we receive the holy land that Christ has earned for us, the new heavens and the new earth. As I read Rev. 19 & 21, I long for my new home where Christ royally reigns over his new creation. I ache to be made holy, living where everything around me is also holy. John gives us a vision where even the road we walk on will be gloriously showcased in pure, transparent gold (Rev. 21:21). Dennis Johnson suggests in his commentary on Revelation, Triumph of the Lamb, that this passage is similar to Zechariah 14:20-21, where Jerusalem is foreseen as a place where even the cooking utensils are as holy as the temple vessels. Imagine that, holy cups. Johnson also points out that John’s “vision speaks in visionary symbolism not of the physical components of a spiritual metropolis but of the spiritual qualities of the people of God, the true identity of the bride, which is to be revealed from heaven at Christ’s return” (p. 316-317). And in this we can rejoice all the more. Jesus Christ is preparing a holy city for our eternal dwelling with him. Meanwhile he is calling a people to himself and transforming them into his image. He is the beatific vision which we long to see. What a privilege to be cared for as his bride! And as I enjoy God’s common blessings, it also serves as a reminder to me that his good creation has been horribly marred by sin. While there is much good remaining in the common, I long for holy perfection.