Moore: Never better
A wonderful thing about coffee is its diversity. Coffee shops alone reveal the genius of creative diversity, from the giant corporate grinders down to your favorite creatively named warming hut. A few articles ago I mentioned the ‘Latte Da’ coffee shop on Captiva island, and other examples abound.
There are myriad ways to brew coffee, from the classic drip to the camp percolator to the French press to the pour-over to the moka pot. Nitro cold brew? Is that really a thing? This isn’t even to mention the endless roasted varieties of the bean itself.
Coffee, like life, is bursting with diversity. It’s a beautiful thing. But imagine if that weren’t the case. What if my preference about coffee — from the bean to the brewer to the barista — made me suspicious and antagonistic toward those “other” coffee people?
You know, the people who do all this different from me? You don’t drink yours black? What are you, some kind of pampered socialite? You know that only religious nutjobs use a French press with a Keurig sitting on their counter. I mean, how can those people be trusted? And what about these non-coffee people! What planet are they from?
Your response, of course, is that this is all absurd. At the bottom of the cup it’s all coffee, right? Who would think this caffeinated diversity is anything but awesome?
OK, my analogy is obvious, and I can already hear the objections, including my own. I’m assuming all coffee is good, and the differences only make it better. But differences among people — especially differences regarding moral, political, and social views — these don’t make things better! A basic assumption of human nature is that our disagreements are bad, because if you think differently from me, and I’m right, then you must be wrong. In fact, you’re not just wrong, you are the problem.
Let’s assume for a moment this objection — even partially — is right. That some political, social, and moral views are wrong, destructive, and should be defeated. Almost everyone believes that about the “other side” to some degree, and both reason and history argue for its validity. Whoever says “there’s no such thing as a bad idea” has not studied human history.
But where does this leave us? As a big fan of history, let me suggest our problem isn’t that we passionately disagree. It’s not that you’re right and I’m wrong, even when you are right and I am wrong. These dynamics will always exist, even though our bias toward fear often exaggerates our differences.
Our problem, rather, is we are really bad at finding ways to listen to, and learn from, each other in the midst of these disagreements. It’s much easier to retreat to our corners and point fingers. The toxic underlying belief is that another person’s value is limited to the extent of their shared agreement, interest, or identity, with me.
As a follower of Christ, this is where I have experienced the transforming power of a Biblical worldview. Despite the historic inconsistencies of Christianity, this worldview insists that every human being is a creation of God and thus of intrinsic value and honor.
Even if I think your political, social, and moral ideas are dangerous, scripture (which Christians believe is God’s Word) never allows me to devalue our shared fundamental humanity. Put another way, while I may sincerely believe I am right, I never can believe I am better. If I do, I am violating one of the most fundamental moral principles of the God I claim to follow.
The New Testament book of Romans proclaims “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This means that apart from God’s grace, we all alike are spiritually dead and separated from God. There is absolutely nothing that makes me more deserving than you of God’s grace and mercy, and absolutely nothing that makes me more valuable to God. It’s not about me! Thus faith in Christ is (among many things) a source of humility and gratitude, never superiority and judgment.
The upshot here is that even if we passionately disagree, greater than our disagreement is our shared value to God, and therefore to each other. On a given issue I may be right, you may be right, but we always will be better-off to know each other, learn from each other, and dare I say it, love each other.
How is this even possible? Well, we can start with a cup of coffee. I’ll buy.
Ethan is the pastor of Trinity Church in Edwards. He and his wife, Lisa, have lived in the valley for almost twenty-five years. You can reach him at email@example.com, and yes, his kitchen has both a Keurig and a French press.