Friday, March 3, 2017

Pour Over Theology

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)

A pour over coffee is very trendy right now. It’s the same concept, in essence, as the automatic drip coffeemakers that became all the rage in the 1970’s.  One of the differences is the filter. Paper filters are still the most popular, but metal filters, such as the Chemex have also gained traction with baristas and the public alike.  And these are not just plain, conical filters.  There is much science behind their design and, according to their makers, truly affect the quality of the coffee in the cup.  

I was thinking about pour overs the other day when a former student asked me for help with developing some youth group lessons based on suggestions of the youth themselves.  As I was reading over the list, there were some interesting and relevant topics, like same-sex marriage, transgenderism, peace and justice issues divorce, dealing with stress, bullying, etc.  What struck me, however, was the lack of any mention of the Bible. Not that I was surprised, as this was from a church whose denomination focuses primarily on the social issues of our day and little on the authority of the Scriptures to guide one’s viewpoint on these issues.  That is when the illustration of the pour over came to my mind.

Think of the coffee grounds as the social issues of our day.  And think of the coffee in the cup as the end result of how we deal with these issues. What stands between the grounds and the coffee is the filter.  It is there to make sure the grounds don’t get into the coffee.  The grounds themselves are crucial to produce the coffee, but grounds IN the coffee are disgusting and ruin the experience.  I once received a free cup of coffee from Starbucks because my last sip of one of their drinks was full of grounds.  It was terrible and they wanted to make it right.  

Unfortunately, what happens with a lot of churches and individual Christians seeking to address social issues is they do it without a biblical filter.  Rather, the filter is of the cultural variety, which is thin and allows the “grounds” to go directly into the “coffee.” The result is a far inferior product and one, sadly, that is more like one made with no filter at all.  Rather than producing a delicious “drink,” it produces something undrinkable and often hideous.  

As I told my former student, every issue on that list was a good one to discuss, but I encouraged her to use the filter of the Scriptures to address the issues she chose rather than merely the opinions of the day.  Too often the trend is frame discussions on topics around our opinions, what we think is right.  As one student once argued with me, we should just sit around and talk about an issue until there is consensus of wisdom formed based on our own thoughts.  In other words, just let the grounds fall into the coffee!

As Paul says, the Scriptures are to serve as our filter in forming our beliefs and practices on any issue of life.  We cast it aside at our peril. Without this filter, as he points out later in the same letter, we give into the temptation of “hearing what our itching ears want to hear.”

Today, know that to end up with a “delicious” result, one that is pleasing to the palate of the Lord, when you pour over the many issues of the day, you must filter them through His Word.  Anything less will produce a very unpleasant result.

© Jim Musser 2017

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