Seeing Red


If you’ve paid attention to Facebook and other social media then you have probably come across all types of videos, blogs and posts about Starbucks and the solid red cups they have rolled out for the holiday season. Apparently this has many evangelical Christians up in arms, as they see this as a strategic move by the company to wage a war on Christmas. Now many, through the medium of social media, are trying to persuade Christians to boycott Starbucks while others are trying to convince me to go into my local coffee shop and flamboyantly and arrogantly give the name “Merry Christmas” as the name to be written on my cup when I buy my latte. One popular televangelist said by doing this he was tricking Starbucks and he challenges “all great Americans and Christians” to do the same. In short, a lot of people are “seeing red” and are blinded by anger over this issue and they want every Christian to feel the same way.  My question and maybe yours is: Does a boycott or aggressively fighting for the phrase “Merry Christmas” really serve us well as those called to be servants and missionaries in this world?

First, I have to ask the zealous crusaders of social media what actions do they expect from unbelievers? The apparent shock that a company, whose highest leaders admit they are not Christians, is not saying “Merry Christmas” is honestly shocking to me. Scripture is clear that the byproduct of Genesis 3 and The Fall is a world held captive by sin. We are broken and sinful creatures who by nature are God’s enemies. Therefore, we live in a hostile manner not only in our thoughts but also in our actions to the things of God. The short hand version of this is to say that sinners act sinfully. Companies run by people who are openly not Christian are not focusing on Christmas. This shouldn’t be a shocker. Even if they did print “Merry Christmas” on their cups would that change anything? To verbally say or to print the phrase “Merry Christmas” doesn’t mean that an organization or an individual actually acknowledges much less loves Jesus.  Sinners act like sinners therefore; the pertinent question should not be why are they not saying “Merry Christmas,” but rather….  What hope is there for sinners and how can the church help?

If the boycott and the withholding of green (money) worked and Starbucks changed their solid red cups to a more festive design with “Christmas” somewhere on it, what good is that? Would that “victory” really change anything?  I think that maybe the focus within this issue is on secondary or even unimportant thing altogether. “Merry Christmas” isn’t the gospel. It has no power to save and transform a sinner whatsoever. The bible is abundantly clear in Romans 1:16 that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation.” The gospel is the good news of Jesus doing for stubborn and blind sinners what they couldn’t do for themselves. Jesus sacrificed himself for sinners, who spat in His face and mocked Him. Yet all over Facebook you see believers getting red in the face and angry over cups! A red cup has incited more rage and anger in the followers of Christ than three nails, a roman crucifix and spit in the face incited in Jesus himself. 

Church we can’t let those with coffee mug theology cause us to lose sight of what is important. Sinners need a Savior. A boycott or being arrogant about the phrase “Merry Christmas” will never cause the lost to know why Christmas is merry. Only sharing and living out the gospel can do that.  As missionaries to Starbucks we should drink our coffee and lattes and enjoy them for the glory of God.  We should be thankful for God who makes different types of soil and climates that grow different coffee beans. We should adore God for gifting people who have various drying and roasting techniques, which provide multiple flavors and aromas of coffee.  I promise a solid red cup or one with a fat Santa and “Merry Christmas” on it doesn’t affect the deliciousness.  We should love and witness to the workers in our local Starbucks, who had NOTHING to do with the corporate decision to not print or say “Merry Christmas.”  We should appreciate their labor that God uses to meet our coffee needs whether they are Christian or pagan.  So enjoy your coffee folks. Cheers!