Coffee Talk: The Story of Romans 1
by Daniel Rice
Coffee has become a world-wide phenomenon. Leaders from the most powerful nations drink it. Astronauts, garbage collectors, museum curators, and heart surgeons drink it. Given that the experience of a cup of coffee is almost universal, let’s compare it to people.
Let’s say that the good and noble things that people do with their lives rep-resent the quality of a cup of coffee. Someone we would call morally upright would be an impeccable cup of coffee. To obtain this kind of coffee would require a private jet to fly into the Columbian moun-tains to collect the finest beans available. The beans would be roasted, rested, and ground to perfection. Coffee of this caliber would then require a second jet to gather crystal clear spring water from the protected Canadian wilderness. These two elements would then be combined flawlessly in the brewing process at precisely the right temperature. It would be the finest cup of coffee the world has ever seen! On the other hand, a person most of us would consider harmful to society might be represented by a suspect pot of coffee from a dirty gas station. This pot has been sitting out for so long that it has the murky consistency of old motor oil. We set these two wildly different cups on opposite ends of a table, with every other conceivable type of coffee between them. Now, in through the door walks a man in a white lab coat, carrying a glass vial labeled Cyanide. The man slowly places a single drop of the solution into every single coffee cup and then asks politely, “Which cup of coffee would you like to drink?” It is, of course, a foolish question. No matter how lowly or grand the cup of coffee might have been before the poison, it has all been corrupted. No one would choose to drink any of the coffee if he or she understood the consequences of doing so.
This is the story of Romans 1 in distilled form. In these first few verses, Paul outlines a similar picture of the human condition. No matter who you are, great or small, man or woman, all of us have been born with a deadly contaminant: sin. Sin is our failure to hit the mark of perfection. No matter how noble a person’s actions are, no matter how much he or she works toward the greater good, no matter how spectacular his or her “coffee” offering, nothing can eliminate the toxin of sin. Your skin color, social status, and sexual orientation have no bearing here. No amount of talent can tip the scale. The playing field is leveled. All sin is lethal, and no one escapes its deadly effect. Everyone starts from precisely the same place. There are no classes or tiered ranks of acceptability. This is the foundation for the Gospel.
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.