I love coffee. Many of you may already know this. I think of making coffee as an art form. I am endlessly in pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee. I drink it pretty much every day. Usually I have 2-3 cups of the delicious elixir but sometimes more depending on the circumstances. Could this have been the drink of choice for Adam and Eve? I know, some of you would probably disagree…but you’re all wrong! <wink>
Any of you who have gone camping for any length of time realize that bugs are everywhere! They seem to materialize from thin air. I get how people a few hundred years ago believed in “spontaneous generation” or that bugs just materialized out of nothing. They get into everything! Last night I flicked 5 ants off of me…IN BED! My legs look like a war zone with all the mosquito bites on them. I am amazed at how fast they are and how quickly they can get into things. God made them amazing and so specialized.
This leads me to my topic. A few mornings ago I have my coffee sitting there on the ground while eating breakfast. I am sipping its deliciousness and savoring a beautiful morning. I go to pick it up when it is about half gone and putting it up to my mouth see a faint darkness clinging to the wall of my coffee cup. I bring my cup down from my lips to get a better look only to discover to my dread and fear…a bug in my coffee. A dead bug in my COFFEE!
In the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) are little known commandments from God about bugs and their interaction with humans. One of these says that when a creature gets into a container and dies, whatever is in the container must be thrown out and certain containers broken (Leviticus 11:20-38). Many of you may never have heard of this and some of you may never think twice about it. In modern times we see the benefit of something like this in that it protects people from disease and health issues. I was recently studying some things about history and discovered that people throwing their fecal matter and urine into the streets of cities and towns was considered an important and healthy thing to do. Doctors and scientists at the time believed that doing this would cause disease-bearing microbes to attack this stuff in the streets and would leave the people in their houses alone. Throwing raw human waste into the open street where everyone walked and did business was considered a healthy way of living. In reality, it led to diseases galore!! It could even be said to have intensified the numerous plagues that struck Europe during the Middle Ages. Well in reading the Torah, we realize that God wanted His people to be the healthiest, strongest, most virile nation around. Death, disease, miscarriages, and allergies where to be practically non-existent if the children of Israel would just follow His teachings. Today, we through modern science, see that many of these commands would do just that but with an extra providential hand to make them border on miraculous for the children of Israel.
Well let’s get back to my coffee after one of my other favorite things…studying history and the Bible. So, I am sitting and staring at this “creeping thing” in my coffee. (Quick side note: I and my family are what we call Scripturalists or Torah-observant Christians. We believe that all 66 books are for the disciple of Jesus today and we choose to follow them as He did to be imitators of Him…to be holy as He was holy.) Soooo, I am staring at this DEAD BUG in my COFFEE and trying to decide what to do. My desire to follow my Messiah says dump the stuff, clean the cup, and start over. My fleshly side says, “Wait, that is good coffee, that bug JUST landed there and died. It has only been in there for just a few seconds. Pick it out and continue to enjoy your coffee.” Well there are the choices. Obey God or drink coffee. Well…after much deliberation, I got the bug out of my coffee and proceeded to drink it.
Many of you may wonder, “What is the big deal?” Or, “You don’t need to do that, you don’t have to follow those commands. They aren’t for us today!” Most of you probably just went, “Ewwwwww!!!!!!!!” (I don’t necessarily blame you either). Well Paul writes about his own struggles in living out God’s Torah in his life in Romans 7.
“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:18-24).
This is why I began following Torah. It is because I love God and I love my savior, my Messiah, Jesus so much! God’s Torah is paraphrased by two basic commands or premises. Love YHWH your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Even Jesus said these were the greatest commands:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
Many say these 2 commands have done away with all the rest of Torah. However, if we look at Jesus’ own words, he does not say they are no longer valid. He says they are the GREATEST of the commandments or law. All the rest of God’s Torah hangs off of these. Without these 2 commands being the foundation, the rest of the Torah is like the man who built his house upon the sand. They are worthless and crumble at the slightest provocation. Paul saw the necessity of remembering constantly the greatest command in his life. We see this in 1 Corinthians 13 where love is expounded in all its ways and its value poetically given substance. Paul’s frustration and mine is that no matter how hard you try to do God’s commands, no matter how much you love God and others, you still fail to do it…OFTEN! Our sinful flesh wars against our desire to love and serve our Creator. That is why our Heavenly Father sent His son. He lived it perfectly…He paid the price for our sin. He suffered that we could have a full relationship with our Heavenly Father once again. He paid for my failures…not His own. That is why Paul writes in verse 25 of Romans 7, “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” He is a willing slave to God’s law, His Torah, in his mind (his inner being, the one Paul always wants to be). However, his flesh is always desiring for him to sin, to break his covenant with his Heavenly Father. To follow his sinful nature and not live in obedience to God’s Torah.
So I seek to follow my Savior and Messiah… my Master as Paul did. That fly in the cup of coffee was insignificant. What was significant was that my love for coffee TRUMPED my love for my GOD! Following Torah has shown me all the ways I never realized that I didn’t really love my God. It has exposed so much sin in my life that I never knew was there. The Torah uses little things to like a bug and a cup of coffee to grow my love for God and teach me how to better live like my Messiah, how better to serve others and reach them for my Heavenly Father. Since that morning, twice a fly has landed and died in my coffee. I threw it out. Not because I wanted to waste coffee, but because I wanted to show love to my Heavenly Father.
P.S. My favorite coffee is Kenya AA, and of course, I always make it in a French Press. You can read more of my coffee-making technique on Anne’s blog. Oh, and donations are now being accepted to help me replace all the cups of coffee I have thrown on the ground. 😉