From the outset, I must be transparent. I am not a regular customer of Starbucks. In fact, I cannot say that I have ever set foot in a Starbucks store. It is not because of any particular thing I have against Starbucks. It is simply that, being somewhat of the anxious sort, if I consume too much caffeine, I become much like a squirrel devouring a high octane nut. It amps me up too much. In fact, some friends of mine told me that I was speaking what seemed to be 100 miles per hour after consuming a McDonald’s Frappuccino. I knew there was a problem when they kept saying, “What? You are talking way too fast.”
Recently, social media exploded with comments pertaining to the Starbuck’s decision to run simple red cups during the Christmas season instead of the previous cups which contained various Christmas logos. To be honest, I have no clue what those logos were. This led some consumers to great sorrow and others to anger. Yet, many, including myself, were perplexed over the way that a red cup could trouble consumers. One is left wondering how it is that people can find the most ridiculous things to find offense. This is especially troubling for Christians who are supposed to be filled with the joy of Christ. Perhaps this outrage stems from anger due to a culture which takes more and more pop shots at Christianity in general. Nevertheless, as the old adage goes, “two wrongs do not make a right.”
These Starbucks red cups have made many blue with sadness and others red with anger. But for what reason? It seems to me that these red cups point towards a more problematic issue for the modern American church. That problem stems from a loss of joy. Where is the joy with modern Christianity? Where is the celebration? The last time I checked, Jesus is still risen, the devil is still defeated, and the grace of God is still extended towards humanity.
Problems emerge when believers cease their worship and begin to focus on trivial matters. The greatest problem is that a grumbling spirit develops. Consider the Hebrews. The Hebrews were delivered from Egyptian slavery. They began a track which should have only taken them 11 days (Deut. 1:2). Instead, it took them 40 years. Why? Well, consider their grumbling attitude. The people grumbled over water (Ex. 15:24). The people grumbled over their leadership (Ex. 16:8). Their refusal to worship God led to idolatry (Deut. 9:16). Eventually their lack of worship led to doubts about their deliverance as the people said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst” (Ex. 17:3)? How is it that people who had witnessed great miracles from God had moved from exuberant joy to becoming melancholic grumps? It is because they failed to count their blessings. They had forgotten the ways that God had blessed them.
I think it is time that modern Christians evaluate themselves. Are we really to expect our secular culture to praise Christ the way that Christians are supposed to? Perhaps it is time to forget red cups and stop focusing on the problems of the culture and begin to focus on what we should have been doing all along—focusing on Christ and praising God for all the blessings of life.
We cannot expect culture to do what the church was commanded to do–worship Christ! Our optimism and joy is not found in red cups, cultural traditions, and the like. Our joy is found in Christ. To stay optimistic, keep focusing on that God has done and is doing. Count your blessings. Focus on the reason for your joy which is Christ Jesus our Lord.
Christian—stop becoming blue over red cups and red over the culture’s love of green dollar bills. Instead–speaking of colors–focus on the purple (the royalty of Christ) and the pink (the love of God) and you will turn yellow with joy! As Jesus said, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Lighten up! Flame up the light of God living in you by focusing on God! And get your praise on as we remember the classic hymn,
“Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day” (from Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, by Henry J. Van Dyke, 1907).
© November 13, 2015. Brian Chilton.
 Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture comes from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001).