Friday, February 18, 2011

Why am I at Starbucks?

If you asked me that question I would probably give you the standard answer I give to most people. I came to work at Starbucks so I could have benefits and only have to work part time b/c I had a breast lump and needed to make sure I did not have cancer. Then I stayed b/c I ended up needing surgery after breast cancer was ruled out. After that I stayed through the holidays as a thanks for my boss letting me keep my job after I had given notice and needed to stay on longer. Now I am there b/c it's not so bad. I love my job most days; I don't have to work full time and it helps pay bills. I have a really nice rhythm to my life; I have a job, but it doesn't really encroach on the things I like to do and the rhythm I like to keep. I don't see myself leaving any time soon.


when I ask God why I am at Starbucks He has a different answer which if you probe deep enough and ask really wanting an answer I will share with you as well. It is that answer that I want to blog about. I have to say that the answer to that question has changed as the months have turned into a year and as God continues to peal back layers of the onion that is me.

When I first went to work at Starbucks it was about killing my pride and my ego as well as the "image" I worked so hard to become and keep. It was a very humbling thing for me to take the job at Starbucks. I don't say that to convey that I am better than anyone else or that it is a lesser job b/c it is not. There are no "just jobs". There are places God sends us and asks us to be faithful. We are the ones who minimize it and make it less than it is. Where ever God sends us; it is a solemn call and beautiful opportunity to love and worship Him by doing "whatever we do as unto Him, with all our hearts"; it is a beautiful opportunity to love and serve the people we encounter. I can just give out coffee to people reluctantly and with no heart, or I can lovingly furnish people with a warm beverage with love and blessing in my heart intentionally connecting with them and using my passion to impact them and make their day better b/c they crossed my path. I can serve the Master of the Universe and creator of coffee by serving the people He created with grace and humility. So anyway, it is not just a job and it is absolutely not a job to be ashamed of. I am not better than anyone else, but God sure did expose that I thought I was too good for "Starbucks" and therefore I thought I was better than at least people who worked at Starbucks. I actually think I am better than a lot of people. That is something I admit now with shame in my heart. What a horrible and ungracious thing to feel. But the best way I can be faithful to God is to expose my weakness and His grace in spite of that. Hiding our struggles will never lead to freedom. I can be grateful that I even recognize it and realize that it is ugly instead of justifying myself or denying that it is really how I feel making me a "white washed sepulcher". When I expose it I can be filled with grace instead of death.

Now that God has moved me on from that and had so much of my "image" and ego really trampled on, there are deeper things being worked on through my job. The reason why I work at Starbucks right now in this season is to put into practice all that God is doing in my life. I am getting to work out daily the implications and daily practice of the beautiful things God is showing me and the amazing desires that He is stirring in my heart. If we cut down to the deepest yearnings in my heart beyond all the surface and really unimportant things, the thing I pray about the most and long for more than anything else is to be like Jesus. I really want to be like Him in every way. I know that there is much teaching in this day and age that we can't be like Him that He is perfect and we can't be perfect, "if we could be perfect, we wouldn't need Him". While there is a thread of truth in that statement, we use it as an excuse to not seek to be more like Him. We can't with any effort of our own become like Him no matter how hard we try, no matter how good we try to be or what rules we try to follow. We cannot in ourselves become like Him. But He can renovate and change us into His image. As we seek Him and love Him and spend time with Him, we will be changed into His image and become more like Him.

Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His
Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
II Cor 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Col 3:9-11 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

If we are not becoming more like Him each year we walk with Him, the question must be asked ," Are we really walking with Him or are we just putting on the pretense of walking with Him?" "With man this is impossible, but with God everything is possible." The call of every Christian to to do the work of the Kingdom; it is to bring the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in Heaven. We are called to be apprentices of Christ Jesus. He is to be our King and Lord. We are called to take up our cross and follow him...
Matt 10:38
And he who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
Matt 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
Mark 8:34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, " Whoever desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
Mark 10:21 then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack:Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me."
Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

The cross is such a common thing for us it causes us to miss what He was really saying here. We see the cross from the context of our present age and culture. It is a religious relic, a reminder of what Jesus did for us. We need to take off our cultural glasses to really get what He was saying here. The people He was speaking to did not see the cross the way we do. He had not died on it, yet. I was not a picture of salvation. The cross was a Roman implement of death by torture. It was a symbol of high treason. So with that in mind think about what He was really saying to them. He wasn't saying, "Hey, take up your symbol of salvation and follow me." He was saying, "Hey, take up your implements of death by torture and follow me. Give up your life; die to all that you have been living for; lay it all down and follow me and suffer with me." Now it looks a bit different when you stop and see it that way, huh?
Salvation is not about "us". We are called out of darkness to shine His light in the darkness. We are called to obey and follow Him. When we make it about our "personal salvation" and not a part of an amazing enormous beautiful plan that began before we ever where, then we miss the point. The call to us is summed up by this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." We are called to give up our lives, our ambitions, our wills, our resources, our time, our dreams; we are called to lay our lives before the King and say, "As you will my Lord." We are so blessed and fortunate in this country; we have so much; it is not costly to be associated with the name of Christ. That blessing is also what keeps us from taking the call seriously. It doesn't cost us, so we treat the things of God very flippantly. For so many years I was not very concerned about the lost; I didn't really give much thought to people who were suffering and dying; the desperately poor were not my concern. "Me and Jesus were okay and that's all that mattered." When salvation is about where you go when you die, then it is a personal thing between you and Him. Everyone else is responsible for what happens to them in the end. If they don't know Him that is there problem. Their suffering is not my problem. When God began to show me that salvation was not about me, but was about something so much bigger I couldn't continue to make it about me and Him and not care about anyone else. Being a follower of Christ is not about where I am going to go when I die. It is about the part I am to play in this beautiful story God is telling. It's about me taking the Kingdom to the hurting, the lost, the broken. It is about becoming more like Him and caring about the things God cares about. The church is God's plan to bring the Kingdom of God to earth, God's plan to love and care for the poor and needy, the widows and orphans. The church is God's plan and there is not plan B. We are to show the broken and desperate world a new way. We are the light. We are to show love and forgiveness, humility and service. We are not supposed to ask God to step into our plans, we are supposed to step into His plans. The question must be asked, " what has God blessed us with so much for?" Has He given us so much so we can accumulate stuff and live well beyond comfortably while most of the world goes without the basic necessities of life? While we go to parks that consume millions of gallons of water, 2,500 children die from lack of water every day, in Africa nearly 1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water. While Americans spend $18 billion just on coffee per year, 1 child dies every 5 seconds from lack of food. Can we, Christian, really be okay with this. Or do we need to rethink some priorities. Are we called, as followers of Christ, to continue accumulating stuff we don't need while so many are suffering and dying? It is so easy to ignore b/c these people are so far from us. Is this what denying ourselves looks like?

That was a little bit of a rabbit trail, but important none-the-less.

We can be changed into the image of Christ. Not only can we, but we are called to be changed. So I am consumed with learning to die to myself and love as He loved. To love unconditionally passionately and completely. I desire to learn to serve all and make my desire and plans last. I long to take interruptions and rerouting of my plans with grace and humility and not with irritation and self important arrogance. As I seek this and pray about it, God exposes every day to me how far from that place I am. Currently, that is why I work at Starbucks. As the high maintenance and sometimes difficult people come into my life each day, it exposes the lack of Christ like love in my life. I am at Starbucks to be made aware of all the ugliness that still lives in me. We are called to love. No matter what others do to us, we are called to love them. Read the sermon on the mount. ( Matthew 5) Pay attention especially to Matt 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you," 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren" only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors" do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

There is never an excuse for being unloving. And since God knows the intents of our hearts and every thought and feeling, then it isn't just about treating them well; it is about how we feel and what we think about them. It is not easy; as a matter of fact it is impossible to do on our own. Only Christ living in us, ruling and remaking us, makes it possible. Then there is not ego or boasting in ourselves b/c we didn't and can't ever do it. To God, then goes the glory.

The amazing thing about it is that, as I encounter these individuals each day, when I begin the feel the negative unloving thoughts and emotions rise, I feel badly. I recognize that I am not acting as Christ would therefore it exposes the ways that I have not yet been remade in His image. Before I not only would not have recognized that I was being unchristlike, but I would have felt justified in feeling negatively and even verbalizing the negativity to others. I now find myself grieved as soon as I see it rise up and begin to repent and ask the Lord to help me feel grace and compassion toward the person. By that I know I am making progress, and by that I know I have so far to go. I long for the day that grace and love are an automatic response not one that I have talk myself into. For the time being, God has graciously put me in the position to be able to practice and have my unchristlikenesss exposed to me daily.

1 comment:

  1. I am also at Starbucks to work with my good friend and Christian brother Sean who complains I never say his name in my blogs. So here it is, kind of.