Coffee Cups Don’t Matter, Culture Does

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Red Cup & Coffee (close-up)

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Progressive Christians are having a field day because one guy, an Internet Personality, has decided he’s mad about red coffee cups. Let me go ahead and say it wouldn’t be fair to call these concerns stupid. It’d be fair to call them extremely stupid.

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.

[tweetthis]Coffee Cups Don’t Matter, Culture Does. Guest Post by Adam Graham @idahoguy[/tweetthis]

[tweetthis remove_twitter_handles=”true”]”Care for the needs of people and for the cultural soil people grow in.” Adam Graham, @idahoguy[/tweetthis]

[tweetthis remove_twitter_handles=”true” remove_url=”true” remove_hidden_hashtags=”true” remove_hidden_urls=”true”]Saying, “Forget about culture, just help people” is saying, “Forget about turning off the faucet, just bail water.” ow.ly/UudcL[/tweetthis]

“Haters Gonna Hate” or “Seek First the Kingdom”

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Dear Andrea,

Some fellow Christians I know and love have said critical things about Christians having their own “Christianese” language, their own books and movies,  their own methods for finding a spouse, etc. They accuse fellow believers who try to live according to the Word and defy the ways of our secular culture of living in a bubble and can be so harsh and condemning. It is hurtful and confusing when Christians say such things. What should I do?

Yours,

Gentle Reader

Dear Gentle Reader,

Christians having their own Christian culture isn’t wrong. In fact, the Bible says we are a holy nation, citizens of spiritual Israel, and we should live like it. We are called to forsake the culture of the Children of Darkness and walk as Children of the Light. The Word warns us also that the Children of Darkness sometimes falsely claim to be Christians. You can spot such wolves in sheep’s clothing and their disciples by the fact they call themselves  our brothers but openly hate us, lack the fruits of the Spirit, and walk in darkness, that is, they wallow in indisputable, textbook sins without any twinge of conscience.

Wolves in sheep’s clothing have blasphemed the Holy Ghost in their hearts and put themselves beyond redemption.  Don’t regard your friends as that sort unless you’ve heard them blaspheme the Holy Spirit with their own lips  and/or have discerned Holy Spirit confirming it as such souls are beyond help and are abusive to the citizens of Heaven. Once God exposes a wolf, maintain minimum safety clearances unless God personally directs you otherwise.

The Bible tells us to remove known wolves from the local church so they don’t poison the whole body, but we must leave them alone otherwise. Our brothers who’ve been taken captive by the enemy may look a lot like them, and we don’t want to mistakenly shoot our own brainwashed POWs.

So assume they’re POWs being brainwashed into attacking their own country and pray for them to have their eyes opened and their hearts convicted that they should be Citizens of Heaven first and allow the Holy Spirit to both reveal to them and assimilate them into the culture of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now, there are three basic problems with Christians and Culture:

1) We remain so separate from the mainstream cultures of the various nations our people have dual citizenship in, we have no contact with outsiders.

This is the problem the enemy gets the above POWs focused on. He distorts it in an attempt to keep them from allowing God to fully assimilate them into the Kingdom of Heaven, a tactic that renders the victim ineffective at best.

2) We’re so assimilated into the mainstream cultures of the nations of our earthly citizenship, those who don’t have dual citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven can’t tell that we do.

All Christians who weren’t raised by parents already fairly assimilated in the Kingdom of Heaven suffer this problem at their rebirth. Even Christians raised in the Kingdom from their physical birth who remain in it have their blind spots where they’re not really in line with Kingdom ways, but think they are. None of us are off the hook here, in terms of the lesser degrees of this extreme. If we’re prone to problem 1), Satan attempts to distract us by tempting us to focus on this one. I’m afraid I have direct personal experience with that.

3) We treat outsiders like they should of course be in the know on Christians’ language, traditions, values, beliefs, and expect them to know and adhere to the rules of a Kingdom they haven’t been born into.

This is another problem Satan wants us to focus on, but he doesn’t mind if we’re guilty of it in our own way, so long as we only take issue with others’ ways of messing up here. His end goal is to get us to accept the deceitful “solutions” he offers us that again at best will neutralize us as a threat to him.

The truth is, when a non-Christian steps into a Christian’s space, they should feel like they’ve crossed over an international border and entered a foreign country, as they sort of have. The Kingdom of Heaven is wherever its citizens abide. However, we should always be kind and respectful to strangers and help them navigate our peculiar, foreign land as best as we know how.  To convince them to become citizens of Heaven and embrace life in our culture, they need to feel welcomed, but they also need to see a clear difference between our way and the way they’ve already got and be shown, through our testimonies of what God has done for us, proof that God’s way works where theirs doesn’t.

Our concepts of love and right and wrong are extremely different from our enemies’ concepts,  though, and some Children of Darkness are hardened past the point of redemption. No matter what we do, “Haters  gonna hate ” if we’re seeking first the Kingdom of God that we’re naturalized citizens of. So let us learn to rejoice and be glad when we suffer for the Kingdom’s sake, for God will reward us  greatly, and restore to us in full everything we lost for Christ’s sake.