November 10, 2015
When I woke up to the barrage of red cup outcries yesterday morning, I shook my head and committed to ignore the buzz. Just another holiday culture war, which seemed pretty one-sided from the looks of my personal Facebook feed. I saw every rant and post and article about why Christians SHOULDN’T be angry about the red cups, but not one post made by a Christian that was actually angry. However, when I posted a status asking if anyone was upset about the cups, several people confessed they knew of many angry ex-customers. I guess I just know how to pick em.
My fellow Christians, let us choose our battles wisely.
Snowmen and snowflakes and ornaments and scarves, the designs that adorned the iconic Starbucks cups in years past, are not the marks of Christmas. They are the marks of winter and the holiday season that our world celebrates. The most realistic way to depict Christmas on a cup would be with a baby, and that would be weird. Or, let’s be more specific, a baby being born in a barn, which would be much more offensive to some than a lack of snowflakes. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I’d want a bloody manger scene on my coffee cup all November and December.
Let’s face it. Starbucks is a world-wide corporation with no ties to Christianity. It is not a church professing the Gospel. It is not an organization that claims to adhere to the truth of salvation and proclaim it to the world. It is a coffee company and it bears the marks of coffee and culture to everyone it sells to and their holiday cups happen to be simplified to mere Christmas colors this year.
We should care about Christmas and Jesus proclaimed during the Christmas season (which, by the way, is not for another three weeks or so). We should care that the true marks of Christmas are displayed. But WE should be the ones to display it, not the big businesses in our nation. So how can we do that? The Bible tells us exactly how:
The True Marks of a Christian: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”– Romans 12:9-21
Abhor what is evil. You’re not being persecuted by Starbucks. Red cups are not an injustice and we should reserve our abhorring and our abstaining for worthier causes, such as slavery, sex trafficking, and domestic violence. If you want to boycott actual evil, check out this list of businesses that directly contribute to sexual exploitation.
Maybe you’re not miffed by the Starbucks cup fiasco (good for you), but maybe you’ll be the one later in the season complaining about employees who say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. This applies to you too. Christians are not called by Jesus to point fingers at non-Christians or even just to passively resist evil. We are called to actively love and defend the weak and needy, as Jesus did. To hold fast to what is good.
If you are hoping to keep Christ in Christmas this year and want to personally ensure that the marks of Christians are seen in your family and community, here are some ideas from our family to yours:
- Operation Christmas Child is a wonderful program by the Samaritan’s Purse that sends shoeboxes of gifts to children in need around the world. I’ve loved my personal experiences volunteering in the past! You can help by creating a shoebox and/or volunteering at an OCC warehouse this season.
- Find children in need in your own community through programs such as Shop With a Bulldog in Athens, GA
- Donate to the International Mission Board’s annual Lottie Moon Offering, which enables missionaries around the world to spread the Gospel to unreached places. Can’t afford to give much? Commit to pray for these missionaries instead.
- Next time you walk past those nice people with the bells from the Salvation Army, give them some cash and a smile. Or donate to an online red kettle.
- Visit your local homeless shelter and serve them dinner or sit down and spend time with the people there.
- Donate to your local food bank.
- Clean our your closet and donate that coat you never wore last year to someone in need this winter
- Provide a blanket to a seriously ill or traumatized child.
- Grant a wish or gift for a soldier and their family.
- Shop Fair Trade for your Christmas gifts this year. Select personal and unique gifts for your loved ones and support causes that matter. Examples: Ten Thousand Villages, Global Girlfriend, Global Goods Partners, Servv)
- Pro Bono: What are you gifted and skilled at? Consider ways you can donate your time/abilities/gifts to impact the life of someone else.
- Read the Christmas Story – the real one – to your children before bed on Christmas Eve.
Let’s commit to boycott less and do more good. To complain less and rejoice more. To smile and say “thank you” to the person serving us coffee, regardless of what color the cup is.
Now, back to celebrating Thanksgiving!