Jazz music pipes over the rising hum of voices and the hissing sound of custom lattes being made at the counter. The chill of the air conditioning kicks on and off, crawling about the room like a silent guest; sometimes coming too close to bare legs and exposed shoulders. Summer novels, cell phones and laptops reside under hunched shoulders; occasionally, their owners look up to take sips from hot or cold drinks as varied as their appearances, nodding to neighbors, smiling and striking up conversations.
What have they come into this establishment to purchase? Not just overly expensive coffee drinks, but a liquid experience. Where else would this assortment of people come together? The skinny jean, TOMS-wearing young adult stands in line behind the 30-something-year-old bald man with a sleeve tattoo. The pregnant woman in stretchy yoga pants and a messy bun shares a wooden block table with the GQ powerhouse couple. At the window bar, two patrons nearest to the door sit on tall stools: A “Workout Diva” (this is literally what reads upon her tank top) sits next to a teen wearing a bright red hat that matches his high-tops.
Indeed, this is an experience. An escape from our typical spheres of reference and perspective. Here people unplug from their routines by having a refreshing drink and participate in an equally refreshing environment. They break into the creative source around them by inviting themselves to become part of the creative source.
When we go outside of this room – this experience – we often become true outsiders once again. What a shame. In here we have a common cultural component uniting us – a liquid experience. Once the drink is tossed in the trashcan, and we walk out the door, we are back to being in our vibe and in our tribe; too busy being distracted to nod at neighbors, to smile, or to strike up a conversation. In fact, if we take the time to notice others, what we often notice is how we are different rather than any ingredient of unity. And these differences often make us feel on guard and wary.
Perhaps many of these coffeehouses are constructive expressions of how Jesus intended our world to be … just without the walls. We are to be reaching beyond our humanmade stereotypes and leaning into the refreshing truths of Jesus to perceive and receive others in a refreshing way. Instead of liquid experiences, as disciples of Christ, we are called to have Godly experiences.
Everywhere we go is an opportunity for a Godly experience. Why? Because we take the Holy Spirit internally with us and God is with us everywhere we go. This is worth repeating: Inwardly and outwardly God is with us.
2 Timothy 1:14 reads, “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted in you.”
Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
We can redefine our experiences by recognizing who is truly in the makeup of our experiences: Christ Jesus. He paid for our ability to have our cup overflow with blessings (Psalm 23:5). In fact, Jesus personalized our cup. Thirsting for Jesus’s blessings and grace is the best custom-made living water we will eternally experience. Once truly tasted, we will not be able to stop ourselves from sharing how God satisfies and sustains our souls.
Why did Jesus come to earth? To circulate with like-minded people? No. To live a peaceful and good life? No. “‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost’” (Luke 19:10).
Many have lost the recognition of knowing when they are lost, at least lost in their ability to reach out beyond what and who looks different than themselves, either in belief or appearance. Some are so accustomed to thinking they are “right” that they have lost the true nature of being right with Jesus.
Mark 16:15 says, “‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.’”
ALL the world. ALL creation.
Are you building walls or breaking down walls with people?
May we focus on living a life of Godly experiences which bring people together… without the walls. May your cup runneth over this week, my friends.
SGLY, dear readers.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. You can find her newly released books, “H.E.R.O. Faith” and “Bad Disciples” on Amazon. To submit feedback on SGLY, please contact news@amtrib. com. Follow Chartier on Facebook: facebook. com/ tiffanychartier and Twitter : @tiffanychartier