by Darlene Melcher

The cold November rain is tapping on my roof as I tap the keyboard. I’m admiring the lights on my Thanksgiving tree (yes there are turkeys on it) and sipping tea. Aaaah. I often invite friends over for tea only to be shocked when they tell me they don’t like tea. I re-calibrate, smile and ask if they would like coffee or water. I keep some one-cup coffee bags for just such an occasion, since I don’t drink it myself.

I know, I can hear the groans from across the world when I say I don’t like coffee. While I’m shocking you, I don’t like OREO cookies either. To me, coffee has always smelled like great, freshly brewed garden soil. This is not a knock against the brew, I have tried to drink it….with plenty of sweetener. Unfortunately, it sends my sensitive system rocketing up to the moon only to crash back down without a parachute. I appreciate people who appreciate coffee. Shout out to my dry-roasting, French-pressing, barista friends: Josh, Jeff and David. (Side rant: why don’t people who make and drink tea get a cool name like barista? Hey, I have been known to grow my own lavender and chamomile!)CoffeeTeaMohammedorJesus

But this post is not about tea or coffee or any other beverage; it’s about freedom. Yes, we have freedom to have different preferences and in fact I celebrate not only what I share in common with my friends, but what makes us different. Isn’t variety the spice of life? During my short trip to New York City, the variety of people, both in cultures and personalities, was like a breath of fresh air…though I’m certain you have to go to Central Park to get a real breath of fresh air.

Even in my small community, I have friends celebrating God on a Sunday morning with no musical instrument in sight and right up the road I have friends-in-Jesus rivaling any concert with their musical worship. Different can be good as long as our motives are good and our hearts are worshiping God. However, preferences and personal opinions must take a back seat when they clearly contradict biblical principles.

In The Prodigal’s Advocate, the main character finds himself in an amphitheater filled with people in various robes.

“Every color of the rainbow was present among the variety of robes that I could see. Most of the people seemed to be wearing robes that were suffused with vibrant colors. Some of the vibrantly colored robes were of a single bright color. A great many were multicolored.”

I confess that when I first read this part, I began mentally planning what robe colors I might choose. However, the next few sentences of the story mentioned a different option.

“Not all of the people, however, were wearing robes that were garishly colored. There were many, although they were a minority of the people in the amphitheater, whose robes were entirely white, blindingly white.”

As tempting as it is to delve into the symbolism behind the robes, that has already been done in The Prodigal’s Advocate Participant’s Companion. The point I’d like to make, is that our preferences must not lead us to choose our own “colors” over the holiness and truth of Jesus. I remember a co-worker asking me if Mohamed was just Jesus but with a different name. It may be true that Jesus goes but other names: Prince of Peace, Yeshua, Messiah, Christos, and Son of God to name a few. However, these names all describe one Person and this one Person is the only being that ever lived on this earth and actually did something about the problem of sin. Jesus was the only one to offer to die for sinners and then to rise from the dead and bring us back to life as well!  My favorite color may be blue, but I’ll be wearing white in eternity.

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.”- Isaiah 1:18

Some might wonder if being a Christian means losing who you are. On the contrary, accepting Jesus’s offer to be saved from our due penalty of selfishness allows us to finally become who we were meant to be. Free.

Knowing the Way to God, is about knowing the One who called himself the Way, because he made the way on the cross. Choosing Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha is not the same as our preference for tea or coffee or water, no matter how strongly you may feel about the cocoa bean.

Why am I even writing this? To those who already follow Jesus, there isn’t much new here (I know Solomon would agree). For those who do not understand or trust Jesus as the only Rescuer, are my words futile, or even fuel for the fire? Friends, just know that I am the type to tell you if you have spinach in your teeth (in love). Even if I don’t drink your coffee, I’ve got your back.