Many Christians are in an uproar about Starbucks red cups this year. Why? You may wonder? It’s because these notoriously and long awaited “red” cups, which signify the Christmas season, came out blank this year. Just a plain red cup. (Unless one degree of ombre counts as a design.)
In years past, these cups have had a variety of designs such as “minimalist snowflakes and hand-drawn reindeer, to winking snowmen and decorative ornaments.” (CNBC.com) But this year: nothing.
Some are calling it a “war on Christmas.” Some are saying this is Starbucks attempt at politcal correctness. Some are boycotting. One former radio evangelist, Joshua Feuerstein said, “Starbucks removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.” Therefore, he is urging people to ask the baristas to write “Merry Christmas” on their cups instead of their names. (CNBC.com)
Well, maybe Starbucks hates Jesus. And maybe not. But according to Starbucks vice president of Design & Content, Jeffrey Fields, here’s why they did it:
“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs, this year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”
I love this. I love this because Starbucks doesn’t even know what they just did. The cups are blank. A blank canvas for you. And me. Our own stories are welcome this year.
So, what will yours say?
When the apostle Paul went to Athens, he was deeply distressed because the city was filled with idols. His heart was grieved for them, because they didn’t know God. He even found one altar dedicated “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Talk about discouraging. He said to them, “For as I walked around and carefully observed your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship, and this I am going to proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:23)
Paul saw the altar to the “unknown god” not as an offense, but as an opportunity. To proclaim. The gospel.
And it’s no different for us today.
The Starbucks blank red cup, is more or less, a tribute: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Or to no God. Or to whatever you want to believe. They don’t really know. You get to choose.
They don’t know what Christmas is about. They don’t know what Christ is about.
But Christ is about loving and redeeming broken people.
He’s not about winking snowmen, or presents, or ornaments, or Santa.
If you are reading this, you are probably somewhat in touch with the culture. If your conviction is to boycott Starbucks, then do that. But if your conviction is to engage with your culture, to share the gospel, then do that. And give a voice to your blank red cup.
Not by asking your barista to write “Merry Christmas,” on it. (You will most likely just annoy them. Have you ever worked in food-service?) But write something yourself. And share it. On Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Spread your message loud and clear.
And as for those baristas, please be nice to them. Some of them might need to hear the gospel. And that’s a whole lot messier than shouting “Merry Christmas!” in a crowded Starbucks. And this might mean actually sitting down with one of those baristas and having a real conversation. (It will take longer than writing a hashtag. And it’s a lot more risky.)
You might get some blank stares. After all, even when the apostle Paul started sharing the gospel in Athens the philosphers said, “What is this babbler trying to say?” (Acts 17:18) The gospel can be awkward. But it is the power of God, and it’s what saves us. And what better time than Christmas?
Maybe your whole message can’t fit on your cup. But it’s a place to start. Whether it’s on social media, or with a friend in person.
It’s simply sitting down and looking a fellow sinner in the eyes, and allowing him or her to look back into yours. It’s about explaining that we’re all sinners, we’re all broken, and we’re all desperate. For Jesus. And that’s what Christmas is about. It’s about a God who broke into our world to rescue us–from ourselves. From our sin. And from His wrath.
Jesus came to save desperate people. Like me. Like you. And Christmas is about sinners crying out together for rescue. Because God knows, we need it. We need Him.
You can shake your fist at Starbucks. Or you can thank them. For a golden opportunity. For a voice.
So this is your chance, to tell Starbucks, to tell your friends, to tell the world what you want your cup to say. You design the cup this year. Writers, artists, people of God–make a mark. On your cup.
We have a dying world. Dying in sin and who will spend eternity in a Christ-less hell. Time to share the gospel. Time to share your story. Time to share the Light of the whole world.
Time to redeem the red cups.
The world is waiting. Not for a silent night. Not for a boycott.
But for the sons and daughters of God, to lift up their voice. To the unknown God. To tell them who He is.
What if we filled the Facebook newsfeeds with these red cups? With our stories? With our testimonies? With our artwork? What if we poured out our praise on these red cups?
If we don’t lift up our voice, the rocks will cry out in our place.
So what will yours say?
Write it, draw it, create it. Take a picture and post it to your own social media platform. Add #StarbucksforJesus or #Redcupsredeemed