A few days ago I saw a really pointless video. So far, north of 12 million others like me have wasted a few minutes of their lives listening to a guy rant about how Starbucks doesn’t like Christmas since it’s not on their cups and they don’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ to their customers. He is encouraging people to tell their barista their name is ‘Merry Christmas’ so they’ll be forced to write it on their cups. Which adds to the irony because people are paying Starbucks in order to protest. This morning, I tweeted a thought about it, and didn’t think much of it, but throughout the day it has blown up my news feed as well as other articles about this guys video and different people’s response to it, so I thought I would make some ‘common sense’ observations of my own about this embarrassment.
Also, I’m sitting in a Starbucks writing this. Maybe there’s a ‘Starbucks Anonymous’ group that Pastors that enjoy a ‘venti flat white’ can join for support?
Hello. It’s a secular company.
I wonder how we arrived at the conclusion that we should be offended when people that don’t love and serve Jesus don’t think they should tell us Merry Christmas. Really? We live in a nation that celebrates religious freedom, and even though I believe Jesus is ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ making a ruckus over a coffee cup is hardly the way to be effective about anything unless your goal is to make Christianity look like intolerant idiots that get worked up over meaningless things.
Starbucks is about freedom, and for a secular company, I can get down with that value even though I ascribe to a different ‘brand’ of freedom. You know what I won’t hear next month when I get my coffee? Happy Hanukkah! And I doubt I will see a Jewish guy making a YouTube video over how outrageous that is.
Being a Christ follower in a secular culture isn’t about being outraged every time society doesn’t line up with your values. It’s about living at peace with people and staying in alignment with the heart of the Father, even in the midst of a culture that is hostile towards your beliefs.
Daniel paints a beautiful picture of this in the Bible. A devout Jewish man operating in the upper echelons of Babylonian politics and society. In Daniel 6 there was this edict was issued that Babylonians were only to pray to King Darius. You know what I don’t see Daniel doing? Creating a YouTube video about his outrage hoping he created a prayer movement that was more about the King being wrong than people being right with God. I saw him continue to pursue God just as he had already been doing. That is the proper way to thrive in a society that doesn’t serve your God.
For what it’s worth, as I’m writing this in Starbucks I’m looking at a huge display advertising their ‘Christmas Blend.’ I can’t wait to see the outrage if they call it the X-mas blend.
Your Concept of Justice is Screwed Up
We live in a day where people think telling their barista “Merry Christmas” is some type of justice. Guess what. Watching this guy’s YouTube video and latching on to his severely misplaced outrage didn’t change anything in the world except for proving Christians care about crap that doesn’t matter. That red cup with your ‘new name’ on it didn’t save any babies from being aborted. It didn’t feed any children in Africa. It didn’t preach the Gospel, it probably did the opposite.
Many Christians concepts of justice are centered around selfish perceived ‘rights’ of our faith rather than realities that genuinely hurt the heart of God. Typing in ALL CAPS about Starbucks Christmas policy but not being broken over abortion is probably a big clue that your justice meter is off.
That’s Not What Jesus Would Do
The only place I see Jesus disrupting the system and turning over tables is in the Temple. An angry dude railing against ‘the man’ is not something I see as congruent with the ways of Jesus. And if it’s not something he would do, is it really something we should do?
I see Jesus, at every turn, engaging secular culture with love. I can’t really see Jesus getting ticked that a Starbucks in a Roman territory didn’t tell him ‘Happy You-mas.’ (See what I did there?) What I could see is Jesus taking his plain red cup, saying ‘thank you,’ and then telling the barista about the Kingdom of God, how much God loved them, and then inviting them into relationship. Why? Because Jesus cared more about fruit than he did most anything else. Fruit comes from the gospel going forward, not having Merry Christmas on your cup to stick it to corporate America.
A ‘movement’ like this proves that Christians care more about being outraged than they do about the Gospel. It exposes the priorities of mainstream Christianity. I wonder when the last time a Christian YouTube video about adoption, or sex slavery, or any number of other WORTHY causes garnered this much attention. This is not helping the Kingdom of God. I can already see the next headline. ‘Snarky barista writes ‘happy X-mas‘ on cup. Christians gets angry and throws the coffee.‘ You think I’m playing. I wish I was, but given our track record it’s probably already happened today.
You want something to be truly outraged about?
- 50 million babies and counting have been murdered on the altars of aborition in America.
- My city, Atlanta, GA has the highest rate of sex trafficking in America.
- The average pastor prays 21 minutes a week.
- 85% of Christians leave the church after they turn 18, never to return.
- Only 4% of people born after 1980 love and serve Jesus.
- Over 600,000 kids need to be adopted in America alone.
I could go on. What a backwards day we live in when something as stupid as a Starbucks cup commands the media’s attention more than the unborn being murdered.
Outrage is Easier than Anointing & Action
People get on the bandwagon of junk like this because it’s easier to tell your barista your name is Merry Christmas than it is tell her about Christ. It’s easier for ‘Christians’ to display a misappropriated sense of ‘justice’ on social media than it is to show an actual person the love of Jesus. I am with Ghandi on this one when he said ‘I like your Christ. It’s your Christians I do not like.’ Sad, but true of too many of us in America that identify as Christ followers.
Genuine, godly boldness comes through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It manifests by telling people about Jesus in a clear, direct way. It shows in the gifts of the Spirit being active in our daily lives. It’s walked out by inviting those people into a discipling relationship with both Jesus and with you. The problem is, telling them your name is Merry Christmas, going back to your car, and Instagramming your cup is so much easier. For some reason people like to feel like they’re a part of something, no matter how hollow and meaningless it is.
Instead of misplacing our outrage and boldness and thinking we are making a difference, let’s make a real difference! Let’s ask God to give us a prophetic word for the person making our coffee. Let’s buy the coffee of the person behind us. Let’s give our barista a ‘touch card’ to our church. Putting a picture of your Starbucks cup on Facebook isn’t going to change anyone’s life. Telling your barista about Jesus will.