Imagine if you will: One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. But without coffee for anyone.
Now that you've stopped screaming, allow me to ask this question: What would this country be like without coffee or any of it's derivitives? So much of our country runs on coffee-fueled workers -- blue collar and white collar -- who just can't seem to get going for the day without their cup of Joe. I've never seen the statistics, but I can only imagine the percentages of people who do almost nothing between getting out of bed and having their coffee.
I remember occasionally getting up early with my Dad and going to the coffee shop with him for breakfast. I can't recall Dad every eating any breakfast, but he always had a cup at least partially filled with java. And there was a couple of tables surrounded by the locals getting together to talk politics, news and gossip; each man seated behind an ivory white mug. It was the common bond tying them all together. The excuse for them to be there. Coffee.
These days, coffee has only risen in popularity with all the foamy coffee drinks and offshoots becoming standard fare. In most decent-sized cities, it isn't tough to find a Starbucks. Even in the small towns, it's pretty easy to find a place for a coffee product. Convenience stores offer cappuccino. Bookstores push espresso. It's common. It's everywhere. And people need it to get their day going, and some to keep it going. So what's the problem?
Are you controlled by coffee? Are you it's slave? Remember what our ol' pal Rocky said in 2 Peter 2:19: "For you are a slave to whatever controls you." Or as the NIV translates it, "for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." Now certainly Peter was making a different point in the text, but it's hard to overlook the reality of what he wrote. If there is a thing you crave from the time you get up in the morning until you finally get your fill, how can you say that it doesn't control you? How can you claim not to be mastered? Perhaps the best test is to see how hard it is to go without. Then you'll know how much control you really don't have.
Now please don't think that I write this as an enemy of the world famous coffee-picker Juan Valdez. I have no complaint with coffee. It smells pretty good. I can't stand the taste though, so I see no reason to force myself to like it by repeated attempt to get used to the flavor or by drowning it in milk, sugar or foam. Still I would never think of myself as more spiritual than any coffee drinker. Because before I can do my little Superior Dance, I am reminded that I suffer a different form of the same slavery. I, too, need my morning caffeine, but mine is flavored with cola and carbonated water.
I don't like being mastered. I don't enjoy "needing" a Pepsi to really get going in the morning. But as anyone knows who has tried to withdraw from caffeine, sometime in the afternoon comes the headache. Frankly, that gets me every time. By 3:00, I know I've got to get some to take the edge off the pounding that is starting in my brain. I'm addicted. I've been mastered.
But caffeinated drinks aren't the only things which can master us. The title of this post brings to mind an episode of Seinfeld where the four main characters all try to refrain from a certain activity. As long as they withheld, they could tell themselves (and each other), "I am Master of my domain." Of course being Master didn't last too long, illustrating yet another thing which tends to control us -- sin.
The Bible is clear that we are to be "mastered" by only one thing -- our Master. Our Creator. Our Savior. Yet we often find ourselves as a slave to greed, or to television, or to Internet porn, or to laziness, or to work, or to the praise of others.
Or to something as simple as coffee.
"Lord, give me your strength to overcome anything which contols me and keeps me from loving you with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind and with all my strength."