by Burk Parsons
Wherever I go, I am on the lookout for freshly brewed coffee. Early one morning, I spotted a small coffee shop that appeared to be closed. I decided to take a closer look, and as I approached the entrance of the shop the aroma of freshly brewed coffee captured me. I opened the door and strolled up to the counter. It was clear that the woman working behind the counter was not nearly as excited to be there as I was. Nevertheless, as she poured my coffee, I attempted to cheer her up a bit.
After some lively, early-morning discussion about brewing methods and man’s fundamental need for coffee, I discovered she was a graduate student of philosophy. And before the conversation could change to another subject, I interjected: “Who is your favorite philosopher?” Without a pause, she replied, “Nietzsche.”
She did not hesitate to inform me that she was an atheist, and she boldly affirmed Nietzsche’s arrogant statement: “God is dead.” At that point, I could have thanked her for the coffee and the lesson in theology and been on my way. Instead, I confronted her with the most basic apologetic for the existence of God. I asked her how she could affirm atheism considering that her very existence, her finite understanding, and her reliance upon the sustaining power of a higher being demonstrably proves the existence of God. I was shocked by her response. She explained that she was a former Christian and that she had been the president of her Christian club in high school.
Knowing her past, and witnessing her hostility to the faith and her brazen attitude toward God, I was saddened. For I realized that she will be held accountable by God for suppressing the truth. Having been brought up a Christian, she possessed knowledge about God. The abundant provisions God supplied, even the very coffee she poured, demonstrated that she was a recipient of God’s common grace.
Nevertheless, as a recipient of such gracious provisions from the hand of a benevolent God, in suppressing the truth about God impenitently, she will incur the wrath of a just God. Without a doubt, common grace that is mocked will result in uncommon judgment. Everyone, from the woman at the coffee shop to Friedrich Nietzsche, is without excuse. For we live coram Deo, before the face of a gracious and just God who provides sunshine and rain for both the good and the evil and who has provided an uncommon sacrifice for us, His people.