Coffee Shops, Chipotles, Morality, and Christ

I am writing this post from my new favorite place. It’s a coffee shop complete with overstuffed leather chairs, couches, plenty of tables, televisions, and free wifi. In short, it’s wonderful. However, over the last hour or so, I’ve grown worried for my new favorite place because I’m not sure how they’re going to stay in business.

It seems to me that all of the successful business models rely on volume. Take Chipotles, for example. Chipotles has mastered the art of serving people quick and push people through the line like toothpaste through a tube. And if you do have thoughts of sitting down and enjoying your burrito, the chairs at Chipotles are cold, metal, and uninviting. In fact, it seems like everything about Chipotles is designed to get the customer to leave. It’s the same with Starbucks really. Because Starbucks is most often located on busy streets with lots of foot-traffic, people are in and out at a dizzying pace.

My coffee shop is different.

These big, comfy couches invite me to sit and enjoy my coffee at a slow pace. It seems that the moment I walk away from the counter (having dropped five bucks for my drink plus tip) I become a liability to the owners of my new favorite place. I’m a leach, really – soaking up the free wifi and drinking my coffee at a snail’s pace. In all honesty, this place has none of the qualities that work well for Chipotles. Perhaps that’s why it stands out from the rest of the businesses in town.

For some reason, perhaps because my brain works in odd ways, this reminds me of a book I read recently. In The Rage Against God, author Peter Hitchens points out that even though anyone can practice morality, the moral code Christians are called to follow should stand out from the rest:

In their attempt to argue that effective and binding codes can be developed without a deity, atheists often mistake inferior codes of ‘common decency’ for absolute moral systems.

But the fact that people can arrive at the Golden Rule without religion does not mean that they can arrive at the Christian moral code without religion. Christianity requires much more and, above all, does not expect to see charity returned.

It’s most powerful expression is summed up in the words ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ (The Rage Against God, pages 141-142).

So the moral code taught by Christ should stand out from man-made moral codes. When Christ called us to love others as we love ourselves, He was telling us to put the needs of others above our own. He exemplified this behavior when He went to the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. If I accept the challenge of loving others in this way I should accept that it may be difficult at times. Sure, I could compromise and adhere to a man-made moral code with lower expectations, but that isn’t what Christ called me to do.

I can expect it to be tough but I want to follow the example of my Savior. And I should expect the rewards to be worth it, right?

Just like my favorite coffee place. It may be harder for them to forge a business that is so different than the successful business models of the world, however, if they succeed it should be worth it, right?

Oh man, the barista just brought me a large coffee even though I paid for a medium. This place is doomed.