An Open Letter to the Youth at MVCC: Coffee, Company, and Character

Maybe I’m biased, but my favorite coffee is the stuff I’ve brought back from Honduras. But then again, I usually prefer Latin American coffee anyways. Everyone has a different opinion though. Colombian coffee, Blue Mountain Coffee from the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica, Kona Coffee from Hawaii, coffee from Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and parts of Africa. Before it became slang, Java referred to coffee from the Java region of Indonesia. Any coffee connoisseur would be able to tell you that there is a very big difference between each of these. Some are sweeter, some are bolder, some taste nutty and some have floral or even chocolate undertones.

Here’s the thing though, and it’s something I’ve never thought about before. The soil makes a difference. Without it, the coffee can’t grow. But more than that, the different soils in the different regions give incredibly different flavors.

Even Michael and Dwight, employees from Dunder Mifflin Scranton understand how important soil it. Dwight is a farmer, and uses soil as a metaphor to explain success in business.

Michael: What is that thing that Dwight always says? Paper is the soil in which the seeds of business grow?
Dwight: It’s not the soil! It’s the manure! Paper is the manure! On-time delivery is the soil! Aah!

Back to coffee. The soil that it grows in gives a very distinct flavor. The coffee that I drink from Honduras sure tastes a lot different than the Kona Coffee my dad gets as a Christmas present every year.

In the same way, the way a believer is raised, and the community that they chose to immerse themselves in, will come to define a person’s character. 

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

Matthew 13:3-8

Y’all I’ve grown up hearing this parable. But never before have I heard it applied in this way. Jesus continues and explains it to his disciples.

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Matthew 13:19-23

Did you ever think that maybe “the evil one” comes disguised as your closest friends? People who scoff at your so called Savior, who convince you to forget him before you ever truly understand him?

Imagine going on a retreat, and coming back changed, or wanting to change. But then what if “the trouble and persecution” of this world comes from your friends? Your boyfriend, who is frustrated you decided to stop sleeping with him and getting drunk with him, and who threatens to leave you unless you resume? What if “the trouble and persecution” of this world comes when you realize there is no possible way for you to pass the class unless you cheat on next week’s exam? What if you finally made varsity, but you know the captain won’t give you any playing time unless you go to the team party, the one with lots of alcohol, girls, and weed? And what if you decide that all this “Jesus stuff” just isn’t worth it?

1 Corinthians says this:

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

So wouldn’t the opposite then be true? If bad company corrupts good character, then wouldn’t good company cause good character? Or at the very least, encourage it?

What if good soil referred to good friends, good company, good community? You know, I think it does, at least in part.

We aren’t created to be alone. We need community, to be surrounded by likeminded people. That need for community is part of the Image of God imparted onto us, we can’t get away from it. But when it comes to picking that community, we must be vigilant. Because if we aren’t, if we surround ourselves with poor soil, y’all the results could be disastrous.

Jesus talks about the seeds that fell on poor soil being being eaten up by birds, being scorched by the sun, and killed by weeds. How painful that could be in our lives.

But the seed that fell on good soil “where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Y’all, that’s what I want my life to look like. A disciple making disciple.

Good coffee. Good soil.

And it’s what I want your life to look like too.

(If you want to join me in drinking the greatest coffee ever, here is the link 🙂 An orphanage in Honduras grows and sells it, and all proceeds go to Christ-centered orphan care.)

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