Black, No Sugar


I appreciate the trend of high quality coffee roasters, shops, and aficionados, because it means that more people are taking flavor seriously again; at least the flavor of coffee. This is more important than it may seem.

Many in America's younger generations cannot appreciate the rich and sometimes complex flavor of coffee. Why? Simply put, coffee isn't "yummy." Of course coffee can have a natural sweetness to it, but those notes of chocolate or caramel are light and delicate. The flavors are not as easily accessible. Something like coffee takes time to be understood and appreciated. You may have to develop a taste for it. But many are averse to the notion that there is valuing in developing a taste for something that on first experience is "yucky." Consider coffee. For many coffee is only enjoyed after is has been overcome with crème, sugar, cocoa, whipped cream, and sprinkles. At such a point coffee merely serves as a caffeine additive with no discernible flavor. Black coffee is too hard to appreciate, so it is ignored, or watered down. This taste-deficiency goes far beyond coffee into much of our American diet.

Part of the problem is that we have sold out for the easiest flavor... sugar. Sugar is easy, everyone likes it, and it's cheap. So we overload our diet with sugar and wind up loosing the ability to perceive and appreciate the nuances of other spices and flavors. Truly tasting and appreciating food and drink seems to have fallen on hard times. If it ain't easy, we don't want it. This is sad, because God has created so many different things for us to smell, taste, and enjoy. The yummy principle that many of us operate under leads us to miss out by settling for less.

We tend to do the same thing with our faith. We settle for one or two aspects of God's character that are more palatable, easier to appreciate, and give up on the other aspects of God that are harder to understand.

Some live on a diet of that famous five course meal—the Dishes of Dordt. That indeed is a good meal, but there is much more to God, truth, and the Christian life than the five points of Calvinism. Some live on the constant intake of God's love. Others wont try anything new on the menu because their favorite is God's nearness. You get the idea. Some truths get the "yuk" response.

Here’s the problem. When all you know is sugar, you not only have a hard time appreciating other spices and flavors, but you also lose the ability to truly appreciate sugar. itself. Sugar must be tasted in measure and contrasted with things salty or bitter. The same goes for our faith. When all we know is one limited area, it stunts our appreciation of God and his Gospel in all of its fullness.

So what do we do? We need to stretch ourselves to understand more of what God has revealed, and develop a taste for some truths which might immediately strike us as bitter. One way to begin is to read more broadly (with discernment)? Some need to put down the books they already agree with, and pick up something challenging. Some should put down Charles Swindoll and start reading Henry Scudder. A few need to put down 40 Days of Whatever and begin working through Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die. And some should put down the Puritans for a bit and read some modern/postmodern guys who write of the same faith, but in different ways. Most of us would benefit from studying areas long neglected where we cannot rest on our accumulated knowledge of familiar topics to make ourselves feel at ease.

If we don't do this we wind up neglecting "the whole counsel of God," leading to a weak and under-developed faith. But if we work at a more biblical/holistic faith that can appreciate all aspects of God and his word, even the truths we now embrace become more satisfying. Where specifically should we start? I guess it depends on where you are. But I believe most of us need to work at developing a taste for more than is currently in our theological diet. Oh, and while we're talking about it, try a cup of coffee. Black, no sugar. Maybe you'll taste something new.


Joe Thorn

Joe is the Lead Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, IL. He and his wife have been married for 20 years and have four children. Joe has written a few books that you may find helpful. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.