If you would like to gather a good sampling of the human condition and the diversity this world has to offer, then sit at your local Starbucks and simply people watch.
I mention Starbucks because they tend to be coffee centers which draw in the proper diversity. The local small-town shop or diner’s sampling size is just too narrow. To witness the wondrous breadth of humanity, you need a diversity magnet, of which the Seattle-based coffee mecca qualifies.
It may also be helpful to define people watching. I don’t mean you should be the creepy guy lurking in the corner, making one feel like they are in the opening scenes of a CSI episode. No, just quietly go about your business but be aware of your surroundings, be observant.
Notice the elderly businessman dressed in his banker blue suit and red tie stopping in to sit and enjoy hot java and brief still moment before the day of work begins. Notice the young girl and her mother who tries to be her “just as young” friend, living vicariously through her daughter’s life and wrinkle-free beauty. Take note of the man who appears to never have been to a Starbucks. Watch as he is politely corrected with the word “tall” when he orders a small drink. Please don’t miss the overly energetic woman, who hates coffee, so instead orders the most calorie-laden frappuccino on the way back from her spin class. And sadly, there is the handful of people who have come to believe that pajama day is any day, any time.
Don’t forget the baristas, the host of green-apron clad, java artists. They come with a slew of personalities, all shapes and sizes. There is the hipster, the one who doesn’t need another ounce of caffeine, the quiet one, the flirt, the nerd, the political analyst, and, of course, the snob who only drinks Chemex coffee. Baristas are a breed of their own.
The microcosm of culture contained in just one busy morning at Starbucks gives rise to many an eyebrow and many a question. I know it makes me consider the amazing differences in each and every person. However, it also makes me see the strikingly obvious similarity as well.
We are all in need of unconditional love. Humanity has and will continue to search for this love in the emptiest, lowest and scariest of places. The sad truth is we won’t find that depth of agape outside the loving embrace of Christ. In that love, we find acceptance, significance, forgiveness, and eternal hope. In that love, we strive to be remade, renewed until we emulate the same loving embrace that first rescued our soul.
The hope of the gospel is that we find all we need in Christ, the one who loves humanity completely-- who took on humanity to save us from its curse. The word all is just too small to describe the fullness of what Christ supplies His children. And the miracle of miracles is that he gives His unconditional love to any and all people who will receive, no matter their current or past depths of depravity. He is love, so it only makes sense that it radiates from who He is.
I pray you receive that love today! May you find significance, forgiveness, purpose, acceptance, and redemption in Christ’s loving embrace. Christ’s love is only what makes being human worth it.