Monday, November 9, 2015

Get Over It, and Get On With The Mission !

Well, the latest uproar in the so called "Culture War" revolves around Starbuck's new "Christmas Cups" for 2015.  Some well meaning evangelicals are bemoaning the fact that Starbucks has
de-Christmasized the seasonal cups - thereby advancing the attack in the ongoing secular "war on Christmas".

Fellow believers, let's slow down and take a rational look at things.

First of all, Starbuck's previous "Holiday Cups" have never made reference to Christmas itself, nor to the true meaning of the holiday.  A quick check of Google Images will show that the previous years seasonal cups had white tree ornaments, or snowflakes, or doves decorating the cup over the same red background that makes up this year's cup. No "Star of Bethlehem", no nativity scene, no shepherds or maji, nor images of the Christ Child.  Certainly no inscription of "Merry Christmas".

They were simply "Holiday Cups", not "Christmas Cups" any way.  Deal with it!

Secondly, why should we really expect a totally secular business enterprise to endorse the centerpiece of the Christian faith?  I mean, really.

Like many other Christ followers, I do regret the secularization of America.  Since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, there most certainly has been a strong Christian influence in the United States.  While our founders were most certainly not all devoted followers of Christ, there was a strong recognition of the existence of a Sovereign God, and a belief in the value of His written Word.  These are evidenced by references to Him in our founding documents and other writings by the founders, and to the practice of taking oaths of office, or giving testimony in court with a hand placed on the Bible.  Without a doubt, our legal codes are based on the Commandments of the Bible, and our society was heavily influenced by what we often call the Judeo-Christian ethic.

After WWII, as the second half of the Twentieth Century unfurled, the Christian influence in our culture, slowly began to erode.  While this erosion has been slow and steady, those of us who have lived through the cultural changes of the '60s and '70s can look back and identify some of the key events that highlight those changes.  Now, here in the second decade of the 21st Century,  we can safely say that we are not a Christian nation.  Even though references to God still exist in inscriptions on the Supreme Court building, in our pledge of allegiance to our flag, and a slogan on our money, a true reliance on the Supreme Being no longer exists at large in the USA.

Those of us who do worship our God and have placed our trust in Jesus Christ, deeply regret the Christless condition of our present culture.

But why should we be surprised?

The Cross of Christ is a reproach to this world.  The message of Salvation has long been anathema to those who do not believe.  Christians have been persecuted and despised by the world system since Christianity's earliest days (see Acts 4) and persecution and martyrdom of Christ followers has intensified throughout the centuries (see Foxes Book of Martyrs).  And even today, our fellow believers are being persecuted with ostracism, imprisonment, and even death in many countries around the world.  Why should we expect a secular culture to cater to our beliefs.  Furthermore, why should we expect any better treatment that was afforded our Lord?

Jesus put it this way:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you..."  (John 15:18-20a ESV)

Finally, we believers spend an awful lot of time and energy fighting those things that we perceive to be a threat to our beliefs. 

Don't get me wrong.  We hold to Truth.  Truth is not a concept, Truth is a Person, Jesus Christ. We also hold to the truth of the written Word.  Sin is sin and we recognize it as such.  Sin when it is finished brings forth death.  There is no cure for sin other than the application of the precious blood of Jesus as we by faith receive the gracious gift of God through Christ alone.

We live in a depraved world, and a dark culture.  Too often we spend our time railing at the culture around us.  We've done a pretty good job so far of letting the world know what we are against.

It's time we do a better job of letting the world know what we are FOR.  Things like Grace, Mercy, Love, Forgiveness, Eternal Life, Abundant Life and a personal relationship with God.

We are called to be Ambassadors of Christ.  We have been reconciled to God through Christ Jesus, and He has called us to a ministry of reconciliation. Perhaps we should spend more of our time and energy finding ways to share the Good News of Christ, rather than protesting, ranting on social media, and trying to force a godless culture to confirm to our beliefs.

Only Christ can change lives, and he does. 

Share the Gospel.  Tell the Christmas story - the story of Jesus.  Endeavor to show the Love of Christ in your life and, "always be ready to give an account for the hope that is in you...", and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit.

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