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dubious metaphor

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Drinking coffee: evangelism revisited

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A while back, I took practical steps to stop a heresy. Someone in America was claiming that coffee was superior to tea. This heresy was just too much to take. So I took it upon myself to send this lost soul some tea.

coffee

Original photo: LoboStudioHamburg, in the public domain

I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a tea specialist. I’m definitely not the kind of person who refuses tea that was made in a mug – although I do squirm when I see the teabag soaking in cold milk before the hot water is added. So, naturally, I asked for advice from my friends. They had great suggestions – some I knew really well and I had available at home; some other I had to go and buy; a special blend was provided by a friend of mine; and some blends were definitely out of my reach (Irish breakfast is a surprisingly hard blend to find).

All that I was able to do, I did. I even gave detailed instructions about acceptable amounts of milk; ignored the purist in me and mentioned some people actually put sugar in their tea (I know, right?). But in spite of my efforts, I could not ensure that: the tea would get drunk, much less that it would be drunk properly. Sure enough, I received a message from my friend later telling me that he didn’t quite like it as much with cream. Cream. (Dramatic pause). As it turns out, this was a slip of the tongue (or so I’ve been told); and my friend now likes tea while still preferring coffee.

The thing is: I didn’t simply want to grow the ranks of the tea-drinkers in our great war against the heretics. Quite frankly, I don’t care how many people tick the “I prefer tea” box in the next census (that SO should be a question); or how much tea is being consumed in the world (as long as there’s some for me). But when I see people who are missing out on the greatness of tea, I am saddened – especially when those people are my friends.

But here’s where it becomes more interesting: after I had offered to send tea, I was offered some coffee in return. Which I gratefully accepted. After all, it is only (a) fair, and (b) through seeing things from the other side that I can relate with the Lost. From the other side of the caffeinated evangelism, I got to realise a few things:

  • the first time you drink coffee, it is going to be a weird drink.
  • if the person offering you coffee is a specialist, you’re going to expect a perfect cup instantly.
  • it’s not worth wasting your time if you’re not going to do it properly. There’s no point in receiving coffee if you’re not going to try it; or if you’re going to judge it all on the first cup.
  • coffee is definitely not tea. We really, really, really need to save the Lost ;-)

I am far from having finished the coffee I have received; so this view might change. Not very likely, but my love of tea might grow stronger from the whole experience!

To my readers: are you a tea or a coffee person?

Unlike my previous¬†dubious metaphor post, this one is pretty transparent (I think). But there’s ¬†a lot of stuff in here which barely scratches the surface of evangelism. What *one* thing do you take away from it?

Some slippery boots

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boots

Photo in the public domain, original on Pixabay

I love my boots. I’ve had them for ages: I remember wearing them in high school, so that’s at the very least 10 years ago (and yes, they still fit). For some reason, I forgot about them for a while, and rediscovered them a couple of years back. I use them when I need some warmth around my feet: canvas shoes just don’t cut it in the snow and rain. Which is pretty much all year round in Britain.

I have “broken into” them, that is, they are now shaped nearly perfectly to my foot. They are highly comfortable, and still waterproof, even though they look tattered. A bit of polish wouldn’t hurt, but I’ve never cared about looks that much.

The outer sole has lost a fair amount of its thickness, but still has a good inch on the heel (how thick they were to start off with, I have no clue, but it sure is impressive). The issue is, the tread has been worn through. The outer soles are now virtually smooth. To the point of being slippery over zebra crossings when it’s been raining. So imagine what it’s like with the recent snow and icy patches… (I only fell once!)

I am now convinced I need to go and see a cobbler (such a cool word) and try and get some new soles on them. And maybe give them a good polish all round, and new laces and everything.
Yet part of me is reluctant to do so:

  • reluctant to recognise that some form of change is needed. This is harder to do than just going to buy new shoes, because I could always choose that I don’t like my new shoes and go back to my old, tattered boots.
  • reluctant to recognise that that change will come from the outside. I will not have complete control over the type of sole, although I can be involved in the process (choosing, for instance, the pricier or cheaper option)
  • reluctant, ultimately, because even if it’s only the sole that gets changed, I will still have to break into it (the wearing off of the sole is irregular, there’s much more left on the inside). I will temporarily lose some comfort.

As you’re reading this, you are probably wondering where I’m going with this: no mention of the Bible, no mention of leadership, no mention of anything remotely Christian, and not one single mention of tea. The presence of “slipper” in the title should not really be enough to warrant being on here, either.

I could spell out the ways in which I think we sometimes have a similar experience in various aspects of our lives. I’m thinking particularly about Bible reading and theological hobby-horses because I feel, personally, that they are the areas that this attitude is the most dangerous, and the fall that follows the slip there is the most hurtful.

But I also think that this is the kind of experience that is extremely personal, and that it affects us all in quite different areas. So what I suggest, this once, is that you go back over this little story and think on all the details, how they might transfer to your own experience. Are there any areas where you got a little too comfortable? As far as the two areas I mentioned above are concerned, this should be transparent enough. And please, please share any insight.

I will highlight a few elements, by way of conclusion.

  • breaking into my boots was a good thing. Comfort was a good thing – until it left me hanging on to dangerous things. Intrinsically, there’s nothing wrong with looking for comfort!
  • my shoes were looking tattered. People could see that they were well worn, and (not in a mean way) someone had mentioned it. Looks sometimes betray a deeper problem – opening up to scrutiny could have helped before the snow fell.
  • the boots were completely safe, and still waterproof, as long as there was no icy patch.
  • I don’t have to replace all the boots – just the sole. Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water!