It seems as though it never fails…every season…someone is outraged by something a corporate entity does or doesn’t do relating to Christmas. I remember working for RadioShack and we were instructed to say “Happy Holidays” to our customers. This wasn’t about religion. It was about making money. The company took the position that they were serving clientele from many different cultures and traditions and therefore wanted to ensure that everyone felt a type of “season’s greetings.” Once again…this was not theological…it was financial. If someone felt welcome and comfortable in our stores then they were more likely to spend money and return to do the same next time. However…for some reason…many within the Christian subculture have decided that it’s the responsibility of the various corporations to spread the message of Christ’s advent…and I find this a bit bizarre…
There have been many Christians speaking about how much this is a non-issue…but this is unfortunately not enough to keep those from among us that are “outraged” from making the rest of us seem like buffoons. The rule of thumb in our culture seems to be that of guilt by association. So, for those of you that think that we are all of one mind on this issue…please give us the benefit of the doubt. A huge number of Christians truly have no idea what is even going on.
Apparently, Starbucks started off their holiday season with red cups that didn’t have a “Merry Christmas” printed on them. They also don’t say anything about Kwanzaa, Hanukkuh, or the solstice. They are simply red cups and have the Starbucks emblem printed on them. This was enough to get at least one social media personality to start yet another viral post about how upset we should all be with this company. He believes this is “another attempt” to remove Christianity from our culture. Ultimately, he seems to believe that before too long in the U.S., there will be a national and perhaps governmental persecution against Christians…and things like this are just the first stages.
Personally…I think everyone needs to take a step back and regroup…because this entire issue that repeats itself every season or two exposes a much deeper problem within the framework of the American Christian church.
I was speaking to a good friend some years ago about a situation he faced while serving as pastor in another state. There was a big meeting with the school board to discuss whether or not they would still open high school football games with prayer. He sat and listened to the enraged debate for a while and finally something hit him. He stood up and asked a question. “Do we pray at wrestling matches, basketball games, baseball games, volleyball matches, tennis matches, golf matches, track and/or cross country meets, or swim meets?” The resounding reply from the room was, “No.” Then he said something brilliant. He said, “Then this isn’t about faith or Christianity. It’s about a tradition.”
Ultimately…the ugly truth is that quite often when the Christian community is upset about something…it may have very little to do with our faith…it may have more to do with our traditions. This is an ugly truth for this reason: Issues like the one we’re seeing over the Starbucks cups illustrate that many believe using the words, “Merry Christmas,” is the same as sharing the Gospel.
This isn’t about the Gospel. It’s about tradition. Meanwhile…while the subculture cares deeply about this tradition…many of its number cannot tell you what it even means to be a Christian. It is our job to share the Gospel…the true Gospel…not a holiday slogan. And it’s the responsibility of corporate entities to sell their products…coffee, smart phones, toys…and so on.
We have got to wake up from the stupor in which we find ourselves…and come to the realization that we have a calling…a responsibility…a GREAT PRIVILEGE…and that is that we get to be the bearers of the Good News…and no coffee cup…no banner…no holiday slogan will ever…EVER…fulfill that wonderful task.
It’s our job. It’s our role. Let’s do it. A cup cannot do what you and I can do.
Image taken from: https://cdn-starbucks.netdna-ssl.com/uploads/images/_framed/S1cfdaK8-5616-3744.jpg