I originally posted this article a couple years ago and unlike most things I wrote from years ago, this is actually still pretty funny and on-point. As Lent nears, and as I prepare to give a sermon on Lent this Sunday, my coffee consumption is at an all-time high! (Seriously, my heart was pounding in my chest this morning!!) So my question to you, oh reader is, do I need to give up caffeine again for Lent this year???? (Please avoid quoting Scripture at me about how people aren’t supposed to know what I’m fasting from–trying to have a little fun here friends–any Scripture about how God made coffee and it’s extremely delicious are welcomed though)
On a day when two people have already told me it’s 99 cent day at Biggby (and it’s only 9:30am), I am reminded once more that I’ve given up caffeine for Lent. This brings up two topics I find interesting: Lent and caffeine. First, Lent.
I grew up Baptist and had no clue what Lent was. I remember at my public high school asking my Catholic friends why they could only eat fish for lunch (or is it only fish on Fridays? I don’t remember…), and I remember them telling me it was because they are Catholic. No mention of Jesus; no mention of why. I’m not saying this is the reaction of all Catholics, but for that period of my life, these were the only Catholics I conversed with. So to me, Lent was something religious that Catholics did and I was glad I didn’t have to do it, because I didn’t even like fish very much. Except fish sticks. Those have always been good.
I observed Lent for the first time last year when I gave up dessert. I realized that the point of Lent is the same as that of other types of fasting, and that is to focus our attention on Christ’s sacrifice for us, and when we sacrifice something (food, dessert, coffee, etc.), it is a physical reminder for us to think about Christ. I often forget about Christ throughout my daily routine, and while a large part of me does not enjoy fasting (and I don’t do it very often), when I do do it, it is helpful in drawing my attention to God. What is unique about Lent is it specifically draws our attention to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as the Lenten season builds up to Good Friday and eventually Easter, the ultimate celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. So there you go: I like Lent. I think people should observe it because they want to and not because they have to. And no, my Baptist friends, the Bible does not say we need to observe Lent and no one is saying it does. Breathe. It’s just a helpful thing to do.
So why was I dumb enough to give up caffeine this year for Lent? Because my wife suggested it. Sitting in a Biggby on Ash Wednesday evening, with honestly no intent to give anything up for Lent this year, my wife suggested I give up caffeine. She is not a caffeine drinker and has noticed how my coffee consumption has increased over the years, up to around 3 mugs a day at this point. So, like I’ve learned is typically best with my wife, I agreed to what she said. Part of my reason for agreeing was the guinea pig factor, wanting to test what this would do to my body. I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was 21 and working my first real job as a youth pastor. I made it all through college being able to stay awake and alert just fine on my own, and have noticed myself being continually fatigued, even with my 3 cups of coffee each day. I’ve heard that coffee, like ChapStick, conditions your body to need it so once you start, you can’t stop!
The first week was highlighted by me falling asleep whenever I’d go to pray during my lunch break. I didn’t have any headaches, just could not stay awake. And yes, I get enough sleep at night. Also, I made the decision (and some of you will, and already have, call me a cheater for this) that I would “celebrate the Sunday resurrection” by allowing myself to drink coffee on Sunday mornings before my sermon. My brother Patrick says this is okay. He said so on Facebook.
The second week was highlighted by me getting really close to making coffee on several occasions when I was having a terrible time motivating myself to work. My line of thought was, “I’m not actually Catholic…I don’t have to fast…Jesus will understand.” But I made it through! Still feeling super groggy.
The third week, this week, is the first time I have felt refreshed in a long time. This entire experiment I have wondered if I will kick the habit altogether when I’m finished with Lent, and this week is the first time I’ve thought it could be a real possibility.
It does make me wonder if we drink too much caffeine. Any thoughts?
I’ve heard coffee called “The Christian Crack” in jest by a Christian former drug addict.
I’ve heard the pastor of a well-known church go off on a rant about drinking too much caffeine is sinful. It was surprising. I wonder what they serve in their lobby, ginger ale?
A Christian friend of mine told me that caffeine is the one drug we are allowed to do by law and by God so he’s going to enjoy it for all it’s worth, since he can’t do any of the others.
Funny stuff. Closing thoughts:
Decaf is disgusting. It got me through my first 2 weeks. Yes it has <1% caffeine in it, get over it.
I know coffee has antioxidants in it. Yes, keep telling yourself it is just like eating broccoli.
I have nothing against people drinking coffee, I am simply making observations about life.
Coffee is delicious. I love the taste and smell of it. I hear the same thing from people about their cigarettes.
- LENT!!!! Drinking Decaf for Jesus??? Say it ain’t so… - February 27, 2014
- What To Do When Mormons Knock At Your Door? - December 20, 2012
- What To Do When Jehovah’s Witnesses Knock At Your Door? - December 19, 2012
Andrew Bailey says
My thoughts, which seem relevant because I recently had this life altering encounter:
I had never relied on caffeine for a pick me up until this recent bout with mono that I just got over. I was surprised at how much energy and focus it gave me – it was an extremely affective medicine for my mono symptoms.
A couple of nights, however, I would drink coffee later in the day to keep myself up for homework and then stay up for several hours past my bedtime because I couldn’t go to sleep from the caffeine that was in my system. I realized the affects of caffeine were lasting 6-8 hours, and did some internet research that verified those numbers (my understanding is that most people have built up a tolerance, which I do not have). Then I thought about how many people who are constantly getting their morning pick me up from caffeine. That made me uncomfortable personally. I didn’t like the idea of using a substance like coffee for energy – especially if it was covering up for a lack of something else in my life (proper diet, sleep, rest, etc.)
I am certainly not offended by drinking coffee, but just like everything, self-control seems to be God’s preference for our lives. Whether it alcohol, or chocolate chip cookies, or caffeine. Since this time, I have been trying to see if I can use caffeine as an occasional tool, but not as a lifestyle. I would still rather my body produce it’s own energy from sleeping well, staying active, and getting proper rest.