There’s a new campaign being taken up by many Christians on social media this week against Starbucks Coffee, the largest coffee chain in the world. In the past few days, Starbucks has been slowly rolling out their holiday season flavors to much dismay from some Christian groups. For those familiar with the Starbucks holiday-styled cups, a notable removal can be noticed: the iconic Christmas art is no longer being printed out on to the cups. This, undoubtedly, fired up some big figures on social media to go out and let other Christians speak up and let Starbucks know about the “offensive” move pulled off by the corporation this year. In return, hundreds of thousands have gone on sites like Facebook and Instagram and have bought Starbucks coffee with the phrase “Merry Christmas” being written on the cups by the customers themselves (and in some cases, the baristas).
One of the suspicions I have about Starbucks pulling off this move is due to the fact that the company was very adamant about their support for the legalization of gay marriage during the SCOTUS ruling earlier this year. No doubt, this view would conflict with the image Starbucks presents itself as during the holiday season.
While it is important in this day and age for Christians to stand up for issues and let their voices be heard loud and clear, I can’t seem but to think how petty this is in light of all of the other issues we as Christians face in the world. The amount of energy and money being spent here on a cup of coffee by some Christians could instead be used to highlight the dangers of human trafficking, child soldiers in Africa, persecution of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, child abuse, rape, abortion, sin, the list goes on and on. I blame the American idolization of brand consumerism and the attitude of secular activism and humanitarianism that has slowly crept into the church in the recent years. Sadder still is the fact that there is no hint of gospel anywhere in this movement. It’s just a show of, “Look at me! I’m a Christian and you can’t tell me what to believe!” – all the while the corporate giant is laughing all the way to the bank.
Perhaps that’s the issue at heart, the fact that while we are too busy trying to make a stand and boycotting brands, movies, books, TV shows, we are using our opportunity in the limelight to make a selfish gesture rather than to let the world know about the Savior who has forgiven them of their sins and promises eternal life, peace, and joy. So many of us are missing one of the major points of Christianity. We are being distracted from our true mission which is to go out and tell the world about Christ and make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20).
If I haven’t made you mad yet and you are still reading this, I thank you for your grace and humility, but my next statement might shock and anger some of you still reading, but I, for one, am glad that Starbucks Coffee removed the Christmas designs from their cups. In fact – they’ve even improved upon it. Do allow me to explain…
Many sharp-eyed and well-knowledgeable Christians will notice the color red in scripture and and the symbolism behind it. Yes, to make my explanation easier, the color red, and even at times the shedding of blood, is representative of the blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross for you and I (Leviticus 17:11, Luke 22:11). The Christmas decorations that we usually put up on storefronts, our workplaces, and even in our own homes are not indicative of the true message of Christmas and have even distorted the truth of the holiday for many generations. In addition, one can also argue that many of the icons we use to symbolize Christmas in general have roots in Paganism, but that’s another topic and aside from the main point I am trying to make here. If we can just take off our rage blinders for a second and think about it from a healthy spiritual perspective, Starbucks, in reality, is doing more good than harm for Christians and the true message of Christmas in general – whether they are aware of it or not (Matthew 2).
In all the chaos of trying to start “movements” and “hashtags” to make a statement, I feel like many Christians are forgetting the fact that the gospel is bigger than trying to have your voice heard just because your favorite coffee chain decided to exclude some hipster-looking art design that barely resembles a Christmas tree. It’s a shame that a lot of us are using this opportunity to go on the offense rather than to share the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ on this holiday season.
Instead of writing “Merry Christmas” on a disposable cup, why don’t we as Christians tell the world what the phrase “Merry Christmas” truly means?
Nestor Arce is the editor for the Christian Living section of Geeks Under Grace and periodically contributes to the Movies section. He is currently busy trying to watch "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" 37 more times.
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