Thanks to the over-eager accolades of my friend, Kelsey, I can’t get the thought of a soy latte from Starbucks off my mind. I’ve never had one, but last week she assured me they are the only way to go.
Shortly after Kelsey told me about the thick and creamy deliciousness that supposedly is a Starbucks soy latte, red cup-gate blew up on the Internet. Reading the headlines it seemed that Starbucks had declared all-out war on Christianity and Christmas. A sort of modern-day Herod, it would appear.
With a mixture of skepticism and alarm, and really wanting to try that latte, I clicked on an article to see what all of the fuss was about. Turns out Starbucks has removed all of the traditional symbols of Christmas such as reindeer, snowflakes and ornaments from their cups this year in favor of a simple design. According to Starbucks Vice President Jeffrey Fields, the company “wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”
I read a few more articles looking for evidence of a crime. I found nothing. Nothing. So Starbucks wanted to use a plain red cup this year with the intent “to create a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity.” For the love. That’s IT?!?
The cups are still red and green, aren’t they?
I watched the video of “former pastor” Joshua Feuerstein bellowing at Christians to take a stand against this atrocity and instruct baristas to write Merry Christmas on the cup as a big, fat “Take THAT! Starbucks!!!” I pictured sweet baristas all over the country being accosted by angry, self-righteous customers and wondered how exactly this sentiment promotes peace on earth and goodwill towards anyone.
I don’t deny there is a sad trend in our country to water down or secularize the meaning of Christmas or attempt to be so inclusive of every religion it’s almost comical. I saw the writing on the wall when I was invited to participate in a “Secret Winter Friend” gift exchange at work several years ago … never mind that Santa is not a religious figure. According to Pew research, ninety percent of Americans say they celebrate Christmas and three-quarters also believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. So maybe people aren’t as offended by the notion of a good old fashion Christmas, Creche and all, as the politically correct would have us believe. But I digress.
One of my favorite passages, particularly as we all find ourselves in an age of Facebook political mudslinging, is this:
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 2 Timothy 2:22 – 24.
If coming unglued over disposable red cups at Starbucks doesn’t qualify as a foolish and ignorant controversy, I don’t know what does. I am not saying there is no merit to the concern that our culture is increasingly becoming intolerant of Christianity, but I respectfully disagree with anyone who uses the Starbucks simplified holiday cup design as evidence.
Let’s not forget that Jesus was born into a far more hostile environment to His purpose and message than we find ourselves today. Right off the bat, the government tried to have him killed. And things never looked up for Jesus. By the end of his 33 years on earth, both the government AND the religious leaders called for his death. His DEATH. And His followers? They were beaten, jailed, martyred and persecuted. The likes of this I can barely comprehend as I freely worship publicly every Sunday, often with Starbucks in hand.
For the sake of argument, even if we did say that red coffee cups and generic greetings of “Happy holidays” are evidence of persecution, we are still instructed to endure it patiently. Early Christians are our example, here. All of the persecution the government could rain down on the early church didn’t stop the truth – that Jesus is the one true God – from spreading like wildfire. And how was it spread? By faithful Christ-followers quietly and diligently sharing the gospel, doing the good work they were instructed to do and walking humbly with Jesus.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold out firmly the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16a
I would think Christians would be the first ones to cheer for a clean design with the intent to pay homage to a pure and simple Christmas. Isn’t a return to simplicity what we have been begging for? Reindeer and snowflakes don’t tell the story of Christmas, anyway. An army of faithful believers who know the Truth and are able to gently instruct, build relationships and allow the Spirit to work – these are the ones who can tell the story of Christmas. Besides, I would feel weird drinking my latte out of a cup with a picture of baby Jesus on it. Just sayin’.
I love Christmas. Love love love it. And I am all for putting Christ back in Christmas. I just prefer we go a different route.
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15
What if we flooded Starbucks, and all the other retail stores for that matter, with genuine cheer, peace and goodwill this Christmas season? What if Christians were the biggest encouragers to overworked and underpaid retail employees? What if we were the biggest tippers and most patient customers? What if we were cheerful and overtly helpful to our fellow patrons?
What if we took time to get to know our favorite baristas and genuinely connect with them? What if we intentionally complimented their work, offered words of gratitude and pointed out what a blessing they are? And if we bump into a crabby employee, what if we assumed they are having a bad day and do our best to be gentle and kind?
In my estimation, spreading of the love of Christ looks a whole lot more like kindness than it does sticking it to ’em with a self-righteous “Merry Christmas!” Me? I am still going after that latte. And it better be as good as Kelsey says it is. Or she’s buying.