I've spent a lot of time over the past few months engaged in conversation over meals and coffee. When I take a step back and look at those encounters I always see glimpses of Christ. One of my favorite characteristics of Jesus is His ability to genuinely enjoy the company of others. We see Jesus eating dinner with His disciples, reclining at the table with tax collectors, and extending His hand to the outcast of His society. Jesus loved people and I believe that is why He spent so much time with them. In all truth, Jesus loved us so much that He left His place of power and glory to join us in humanity. He took on flesh and dined with man, rejoiced with man, wept with man, laughed with man, but most importantly suffered death like man must experience because of sin. As difficult as it may be to understand the humanity aspect of Christ, I take great comfort in the truth that my Lord walked the same earth I did. I find great peace in the truth that I belong to a God that can sympathize with my plight and brokenness, because He has experienced it first hand in what He saw when he came to earth.
It is amazing to me that I serve a King that is not some distant entity or being. It is different than all other world religions. God is not some idea or philosophy. He is not a "way of thinking" or some "cosmic metaphor." My God is real and countless times He has proven Himself true.
In my own personal experience as a college student I have learned that many of the most important conversations we take part in are shared over coffee. I may be biased because I was born in the region where "God created coffee and saw that it was good" during the Creation account (not entirely accurate or biblical) but take a few points into consideration:
1. The atmosphere of the typical coffee shop is one of genuine and earnest dialogue.
People don't go to coffee shops to yell at each other. They don't order their "grande americano, no room" to throw in anger as a result of a heated argument. People go to converse over a delicious beverage and pastry because it is an honest comfort to be shared with one we care about.
2. Getting coffee is tied closely to catching up and reconnecting.
When one invites another to go grab a cup of coffee, there is an unspoken understanding that they will be having a decent conversation, a conversation intended to enlighten the other with life events as well as enjoying the other's presence. Coffee dates are synonymous with an updating of what is currently happening in ones life. Take this scenario for example: You have been studying at a school very far from your hometown. Upon your return you realize you have yet to talk with one of your really good friends for a significant amount of time. What do you do? You text or call then and ask if they want to get coffee at some point while you are back.
3. The time we spend in conversation equates love.
The hours we spend casually sipping our choice of hot or cold beverage indicates a desire to spend time with another. We take time out of our busy and often chaotic schedules to slow down and allow ourselves to be welcomed back into their life, if even only a glimpse of it. In our fast-paced culture we place such high importance in our time, at is the only irrevocable aspect of our existence. In our society, time is equated to love. The more time we spend with another, the more value and worth we see in them, as they are worth the very substance and object we cannot replace.
4. Coffee dates present the opportunity of new friendships and relationships.
It is often the first one-on-one hangout new acquaintances experience. It doesn't carry nearly the intimidation factor dinner and a movie does but coffee does present the opportunity to genuinely learn about someone else; their likes and dislikes, members of their family, similarities and differences, favorite movies, favorite color, favorite foods, and other interesting "fun facts." It also presents the opportunity to ask a person one of the most important and caring questions you can ask.
5. "What's your story?"
The asking of this questions shows your genuine interest in the other persons life. I've spent upwards of an hour listening to people tell me their stories and each time has been equally rewarding. You learn a lot about someone when you hear their life from their one perspective. You see their struggles, their joys, their trials, their triumphs. If the person knows anything about holding a conversation they often ask you your story as well, which opens even more doors to share your own experiences and life.
Show your loved ones their worth by spending time with them. Understand that while I think coffee is great within itself, it is not merely the drink that makes these conversations significant. A conversation's worth is found in the laughs that are shared, the memories made, and the genuine concern felt by the other person. Love one another and display the love Christ had for every person He encountered.