Let me say, you don’t have to have anything to do with a particular chain of coffee shops. I don’t drink coffee. If I have a Chai Latte, it’ll be at Dutch Brothers or a church coffee shop. Aside from a couple of gift cards, I pretty much gave up on [the chain getting enough free advertising] when they decided baristas were going to randomly lecture people on race relations. A red cup doesn’t have much to do with issues some people have with that place. And to passively not to go somewhere takes very little of my time.
However, I’ve noticed a subtlety in the commentary from many progressive Christians. People aren’t just suggesting that this is a stupid thing to be upset about and that the guy is behaving badly.
Rather, it’s indicative of a larger “problem” of Christians being concerned about the state of our culture: issues like the removal of God from the public square, immorality in the media, and a society that forces Christians to violate their conscious or be ghettoized. Why can’t we focus on things that really matter like people’s needs?
We should care for the needs of people, but we should also care for the state of our culture and the soil in which people grow and are influenced. Many children are orphans because their parents listened to cultural messages to “follow your heart,” and “be true to yourself,” and ended up in a world of trouble. It left them so broken, they couldn’t care for their own children.
When you look at the trail of broken and destroyed lives that so many ministries deal with, you can find the messages that led them astray are in the schools, the government, and the entertainment media. Saying, “Why not just help hurting people and forget about the culture,” is kind of like saying, “Forget about turning off the faucet, let’s just bail water.”
For those who are concerned about evangelism and bringing people to Christ, I would plead our government doesn’t just hand out inoculations against disease. In public schools, our government attempts to inoculate against the Gospel of Christ by trying to remove the very idea of sin, a creator, and the need for a Savior.
What can a healthy culture do? It can’t compel faith, but it can point the way to faith. I have a relative who grew up in the 1940s and 50s raised by an Atheist. In the early 60s, he wrote a song about Noah’s Ark before becoming a Christian. When he got into trouble and decided to turn to God to help, he knew: 1) he needed to be humble before, and 2) he needed to confess his sins to God. (A lot of people won’t get that from church.)
No, red cups don’t matter. However, culture does matter a great deal. A culture that spits on God, encourages sexual immorality and self-idolatry is a culture that hurts a lot of people. Yes, let’s care for those in need, but part of that is caring for the cultural climate of the world we live in.