Who Makes the Coffee?

Ask that question in our home and the answer would be “Me mostly.” If you were holding a cup of my brew and asked the question, I’d say, “Café Ruiz.” That’s the brand we normally buy.

This past week, Sue and I got to tour the Ruiz family farm in Boquete. Our guide, Carlos, opened our eyes to what it takes to get coffee from the bush to our cup. It went something like this … Carlos speaking rapidly in one breath … “We cultivate the plant, we hand pick the beans, we float-sort the beans, we husk the beans, we ferment the beans, we wash the beans, we dry the beans (twice), we age the beans, we mill the beans, we sort the beans again, we grade the beans, we bag the beans, we ship the beans.” Then chuckling, Carlos showed us the label on a bag of foreign-marketed coffee. It read, “Proudly Roasted in Italy.” If you had asked me who made that coffee, I would have responded, “The Italians … I suppose.” But all those steps from plant to green-bagged beans … happened in Panama. All the Italians did was burn it. And, of course, there is another person routinely left out of the coffee equation. Who imagined and created a plant that produces beans rich in flavor, caffeine and flavonoids? God makes the coffee!

How often in life we consider the last two steps of a process and place all the credit there. Museums don’t display brushes, tubes of paint, finely crafted easels and expertly stretched canvases. None of the producers of those products are known or remembered … only the painting and the artist are celebrated.

What if we change the question? What if we ask, “Who makes the church?” Far too often, the growth of a church gets attached to a few key leaders. We suffer from a serious celebrity mentality in the world today … even in the church. But when any community of believers grows and flourishes, there are a hundred intangibles that nobody sees; invitations, acts of kindness and hospitality, quiet service, one-on-one discipleship, empathy, generosity, prayer. And … when something emerges that’s more than a prosperous and morally upright country club, there’s another answer to the question. Who makes a true church? Jesus Christ!

You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19–22

Lord Jesus, build your church!