The Idolatry of Coffee (And Other Things) 

What are the things in your life that you could not live without? Day to day, what are the things that you depend on to get you through?  

For many, it’s coffee. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve heard someone say something along the lines of, “Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee” or “I’m not awake until I’ve had a coffee” or “I don’t function without having coffee”. 

Perhaps a close second (regarding things we depend on) is family. 

Now, it’s not that I dislike coffee drinkers…there is nothing wrong with drinking coffee to enjoy it. However, issues arise when we become dependent on it (and other energy drinks)…issues arise when coffee becomes an idol.  

If reading this makes you feel uncomfortable, perhaps you should explore why a bit more. 

John Piper’s “working definition of idol” is this: “an idol is anything that we come to rely on for some blessing, or help, or guidance in the place of a wholehearted reliance on the true and living God.” 

He says that an idol is something we look to “for some special protection, or blessing, or guidance, or help that we don’t think we could get by just looking to God.” 

So many good things, like coffee, exercise, and even other people, given to us by God can too easily become idols. We look to coffee and exercise for happiness and hope. We look to people for guidance. 

And it is only when these things don’t work out that we often stop and turn back to God, provided we don’t go looking in other places again. This isn’t just a 2024 thing, but we see it in the Bible too. 

Despite doing “what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God,” Asa, king of Judah, sought the help of Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, to fight against Baasha, king of Israel. He also sought the help of physicians instead of seeking God’s help. Both of these failings are recorded for us in 2 Chronicles 16. 

If we claim faith in…that is, if we claim to trust in Jesus, why do we not actually trust him? 

Perhaps it’s because we don’t really know him? Maybe we have forgotten, or grown complacent with, who God truly is, and so, though we have the knowledge of him, we don’t actually have a relationship with him where we truly trust that he is more than enough for all of our needs. 

Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” He didn’t say, “I have so much to do that I shall start my day with a coffee.” You might think, “But a coffee is so much less time…” And that’s true! But in turning to coffee for what we should rightly be turning to God for, we make an idol of coffee, and we relegate our relationship with God to the sideline. We can so easily turn a good thing that God has given us into something that replaces God himself. 

George Müller wrote, “I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.” This he did by reading and meditating on the Word of God each morning when he woke up. He goes on to say, “As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time, except we take food, and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning, so it should be with the inner man.” 

Could you say that you could not live without prayer and reading & meditating on God’s Word? Could you say that in order to get through your day you MUST first spend time in prayer and in God’s Word? Who or what do you depend on to help you face what the day ahead holds? If it is not, first and foremost, God, then it is an idol in place of him. 

Keep trusting Jesus,