Have you been down the coffee aisle lately? The endless options offer more flavors, concoctions, and menagerie of mixes than all of the menus in every coffeehouse in America combined. Honestly, it makes an indecisive person’s head spin. It’s the epitome of American culture.
I remember when the coffeehouse concept first hit the scene hard in the 1990’s. The spin was that is was supposed to foster community. It was a place where people could come and socialize, discuss current events, play games, and well, try out some new coffees. It was the “new thing” and people in their teens and 20’s came in droves. Churches even cobbed on to the idea and opened coffeehouses in their foyers.
Then Wi-fi was added to entice more people to come and commune over a cup of joe. Have you been in a coffeehouse lately? People are glued to their computer screens and will not allow even a passerby uttering, “Good Morning” to break the link they have with their virtual world. While we all sit together, no one interacts. We come into proximity with another human, only to escape online to view and comment on photos and conversations that are happening thousands of miles away. Strange.
Now we have our own personal coffeehouses in our homes. It’s called a Keurig. You stick your cup of choice into a machine and out comes your perfect brew, exactly the way you want it. You don’t even have to interact with a cashier. Brilliant. But lonely. Even a step further on the loneliness scale than sitting in a crowded coffeehouse speaking to no one.
But it smacks of our overly celebrated liberty. We want what we want, how we want it, when we want it, where we want, packaged in our chosen container, and most importantly, we want it NOW! Forget community, give me liberty. We have taken our American liberty and used it as an excuse to engage in over indulgence and selfishness.
And what is the outcome? Satisfaction? No. A sense of significance? No. A sense of purpose? No. A sense of entitlement? Yes, coupled with a big helping of isolation and loneliness. Please don’t get me wrong. I am EXCEEDINGLY thankful for the liberty I have as an American. The last thing I would ever want to do is make those who so selflessly fight for that liberty to feel that I do not appreciate them. That is the FARTHEST thing from the truth. What I am trying to point out is this: the greatest thing about our liberty is that we are FREE to have community. Free to speak. Free to assemble. Free to give. Free to sacrifice. Free to follow our convictions. Free to worship God publicly.
I read a study the other day that one in three American women suffer from depression. So, the next time you are sitting in Starbucks, look to your left and to your right. If you are not fighting depression, odds are one of the women sitting next to you is. The next time you put your K-cup into your nifty machine, gaze out your kitchen window. Chances are your neighbor either to the right or to the left is crying for no reason and can’t figure out why. Maybe what we all need is to rethink how we use our liberty and intentionally engage in community. Maybe we need to brew a nice big pot of coffee and invite someone over. Maybe, just maybe, we will find that what Jesus said was true, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Mark 8:35 NASB).
Give something of yourself today. A cup of coffee, maybe?