‘To drink coffee, or not to drink coffee?’
Is this the question?
Actually, the issue is deeper than coffee. For the believer, we are dealing with a gospel engagement issue in the most recent wake of controversy over Starbucks long held view and support of same-sex marriage.
First of all, I want to preface before my remarks by saying that if you have chosen for conscience sake not to support Starbucks, then I condemn you in no way. God’s word tells us that anything that is not done in faith is sin [Romans 14:23]. So, if you in good faith cannot support Starbucks please don’t. Do not violate your conscience.
However, I would like to challenge leaders and the average laymen with what it means to engage our culture with the gospel and whether or not boycotting Starbucks or any other corporation will accomplish that mission. Let’s take a step back, breath a minute, clear our mind of all social media bantering, and look at the whole picture.
The whole picture
For the 21-century believer living in Western American culture, he or she finds they are surrounded in a postmodern world. No longer is our society permeated or influenced by Judeo-Christian values. It has been replaced by a more evident and stronger humanistic way of thinking. The value system that once motivated the average citizen – Christian or not – is all but gone. We are left with a faded photograph stored in an attic that we nostalgically remember and hope will return. For the first time, the American believer finds himself understanding what it must have been like for Paul to minister in Rome or Corinth; or Jesus and His disciples who had to pay taxes to Caesar – using the money for nothing but evil. Anyone who is a student of accent history knows the level of debauchery that Rome and Corinth had reached in regards to perversion. It ran rampant in the streets. One could not walk down the road without being visually assaulted by it. You could make an argument that we have reached that level here in America.
Why do I reference the culture of the first century believers or Jesus himself? I do it to remind us that we are not the first ones to engage the gospel in a culture that is anti-Christian. Sure, we are not being killed for it, but we are verbally persecuted everyday by the media and those who push their agenda. And yet, I ask: do we engage as the first century believers did? Jesus told his disciples to pay taxes to an evil emperor who used their money for anything but good [Matthew 22:1-22]. Paul told slaves to be faithful servants to their earthly masters [Ephesians 6:5-8]. Do not misunderstand me. There are definite times when we should obey God rather than Caesar. But is this the ground that we want to die on? Is removing ourselves from all engagement from an area a good idea?
I believe the gospel compels us in a different direction than we might think. I don’t know why, but Christians often seem to have a knee jerk reaction to things. Instead of responding, we react. Instead of engaging, we hypercritically ostracize those around us. Instead of addressing the issue biblically, we basically say, “I don’t like you anymore”. Do not be fooled. The message of the gospel will be divisive by its very nature. But must we unnecessarily turn people off from the gospel? In EVERY place, preach forgiveness that is found at the foot of the cross. Show people their sins in light of the word of God. Compel them to repent and turn in faith to Christ. Oh, and remember: only grace differentiates you from the guy next to you.
So what should we do?
Lets make our daily/weekly stop at our local Starbucks, grab a cup of coffee, say hi to our favorite gay barista, strike up a conversation, and who knows; maybe you will have the chance to talk about the gospel. You may be the one God will use to bring the Starbucks culture to Christ. If all the Christians stop working or going into Starbucks, who will reach that avenue of culture with the gospel? If we remove our influence from every place that supports or promotes a gay agenda, we remove the light of the gospel in that corner. In addition, we cease to have a platform from which to engage the issue of homosexuality. Furthermore, what happens when all organizations except the church or Christian businesses – which may find it impossible to operate legally – herald loudly their support and throw their money liberally to the homosexual cause? Will we just close ourselves up into our houses and cease to engage with the gospel?
Jesus commanded His disciples to GO into the ENTIRE world. We are not to be of the world, but we are most certainly to be IN the world. So the question is not ‘to drink coffee or not to drink coffee’ but rather ‘to engage with the gospel or not to engage with the gospel’?
For more on this issue, I encourage you to read the following article by Dr. Russell Moore: ‘Should Christians Boycott Starbucks?’