Monday, September 29, 2008

The Kingdom and Starbucks

“The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:15)

Do you remember what you did on February 26, 2008 between the hours of 5:30 and 8:30 p.m.? It was a Tuesday, if that helps. There’s one thing you probably did not do. You didn’t go to Starbucks for coffee. On that day Starbucks closed 7000 stores for three hours to re-train 135,000 baristas. That three hour continuing ed. session cost the company 10 million dollars in wages and lost revenue. The aim of the training was simple: learn how to make decent espresso.

Espresso is basic to the whole Starbucks enterprise. Apparently, mastery of this basic skill among Starbucks baristas had gotten sloppy. It was time to get back to basics and learn or re-learn how to do what it is that Starbucks does. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says he’s “looking to the company’s future with ‘laser intensity’ by looking back to where it all began: the coffee.” The coffee is everything.[1]

In the coming weeks we’ll be doing the same thing with regard to living as followers of Jesus. If we look back to where things started with Jesus we find this: Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God was at hand, right here among us.

Kingdom of God. Those words have grown moldy for many of us. They smack of too much religiosity, a high sounding notion that’s hard to apply to daily life. We’re not entirely sure what the Kingdom of God is. Time to learn or re-learn what Jesus was talking about – and he talked about it often.

Here’s a place to start today. When Jesus announced the Kingdom he called for two specific responses.

First, repent: change the direction of your life. The kingdom is a new reality that brings “up there down here.” The Kingdom redefines our values and our priorities and asks us to make adjustments to the way we live. Turns out, the Kingdom is very practical.

Second, believe the good news. With all that’s happening in our world today, we need some good news. The good news is that God is real and God is in charge. Appearances to the contrary aside, God is in control of all we see, and that includes you and all that concerns you.

What does the reality of this Kingdom mean for you today? Is it time for a change of course? Are you struggling to believe good news, overwhelmed with the bad news that meets us every morning?

Let’s get back to basics. Life isn’t defined by Washington and Wall Street. The Kingdom of God is real. Let’s figure out what it means to live there.

Lord Jesus, the Kingdom you announced sounds like the stuff of fantasy and wishful thinking. Help us to see it and believe it. Even more, help us to live in the reality of your ruling presence among us, we pray. Amen.

[1] From an article by David Margolick in the July 2008 issue of Portfolio magazine.

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