For the 2015 season, Starbucks decided to simply make their cups a blank red canvas. And here’s the reason:
According to a statement by Jeffery Fields, Starbucks Vice President of Design and Content, “in the past we have told stories with our holiday cup designs. This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”
Some people are less than thrilled with the change though.
A former televangelist and radio evangelist named Joshua Feuerstein shot a selfie video outside of a Starbucks Coffee Shop he had just visited in which he slammed Starbucks for removing any ties to Christmas with their blank red cups.
Feuerstein went on to encourage every Christian that visits the coffeshop to give the baristas at Starbucks their name as “Merry Christmas” so that once again, Christmas would be back on the Starbucks cup.
This ignited a firestorm of criticism and comments from people on both sides of the issue including celebrities and politicians, but I’ve gotta be honest, I’m kind of with Starbucks on this one.
Starbucks is a national company that claims diversity as one of their greatest assets. Even in the comment by Fields, you can see that they welcome “all of our stories.”
That means your story and my story are welcome at Starbucks.
Guess where else your story and my story are welcome? The church.
But right now, the church has a perception problem. When we fight back against a company that is of the world, and holds to worldly values, we lose. Every time.
Fighting back gives non-churched people ammunition against the church because we are proving the biggest argument people have against the church – it’s full of hypocrites.
A hypocrite is a person who has the appearance of a virtue or goodness, but not the real thing. Hypocrites can come off as incredibly insincere.
If the church tries to underhandedly “fight back” against an established company, especially one as prominent as Starbucks, how does that display anything less than hypocrisy?
For example, Jesus said “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:38-40) yet Christians are “fighting back”.
Jesus said “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44) yet Christians are igniting a firestorm on social media with vitriolic hate against a secular company.
Jesus said, “don’t lie,” (Matthew 19:18) yet Joshua Feuerstein is encouraging you to give a false name to the baristas at Starbucks.
And admittedly, some of these are a stretch, but nonetheless true.
But here’s what the world doesn’t get: they’re actually right. The church is full of imperfect people.
No Perfect People Allowed
There is no one who is perfect except for Jesus which means that you and I are flawed.
We make mistakes. We fall short. We fail.
The church is full of people who fit that definition. We can lack virtue, we can simulate goodness and we’re incredibly insincere at times.
But thankfully, we have a God who knows that about us.
Thankfully we have a Savior who understands that we can’t make it on our own and came into this world to save us from our imperfections.
See here’s the truth about you and I: We all need Jesus.
In fact, the only difference between a Christian and a Non-Christian is Jesus.
Jesus takes our imperfections and makes them perfect. And here’s the ironic part:
He did that through a red cup as well.
A Red Cup For All
Jesus, on the night he was arrested sat in a room with twelve of his closest friends and shared a final meal with them. And he took a cup filled with wine and this is what he did and said about it:
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:27-28)
Jesus took our sins away with his sacrifice on the cross and he gave us the worship element of communion to remind us that we are imperfect people and he is the one who made us perfect.
That includes our imperfect choices, our imperfect actions, and our imperfect pasts.
And that also includes our imperfect decision making when it comes to red cups and the people who provide them.
Sharing The Only Red Cup That Matters
How about we try a different approach to the Starbucks red cups?
How about we go into Starbucks tomorrow and care less about the red cup without Merry Christmas tie-ins and more about the person who is serving you that cup?
How about we demonstrate the love Jesus had for people by caring about them enough to share Jesus with them?
They’re just as imperfect as you are, I promise you. They have hurts and struggles and failures just like you do, but maybe you have something they don’t because maybe someone shared the red cup of Jesus with you at a time where you desperately needed it.
I’m not the same person I was because my parents shared it with me. You’re not the same because someone else shared it with you, but it’s only by sharing, not fighting, that we learn to love each other.
Jesus is for everyone and that’s what really matters. So love your neighbor whether they like the red cups or not because remember, your job is to love them and serve them by giving and showing them all that Jesus has done for you.
Brian Morrissey is the Worship & Teaching Pastor at Connect Christian Church, a portable church on Cincinnati’s eastside that meets at Withamsville-Tobasco Elementary in Clermont County at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays.