What do Starbucks, Seth Rogen, & Jesus have in common?
I’m all for apologetics, the “reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine.” In their place and in their time. But why do people of faith find themselves hung up on apologetics when it comes to films made by those who don’t believe the same thing, or, as recently as this weekend, when it comes to the design of Starbucks’ holiday cups?
While there is a time to wrestle with issues of theology, I think that sometimes we get so carried away in society’s “us versus them” banter, that we lose sight of what we’re really doing here. We arrive at the point of faith with an understanding of how much we need Jesus’ grace and forgiveness through his death on the cross, and before long, too many of us think that Jesus needs us to argue for him, pontificate about him, and angrily protest in defense of his honor.
Puh-lease. Jesus died on the cross, crucified between two thieves when he could’ve hopped down, flown away, or blasted all of the Romans off of the planet. Do you really think he is offended by some people who doubt his existence?
Jesus loved – and we should, too. Jesus forgave, and we should, too. Jesus lived sinlessly, and we should (try), too. Jesus cared about and not or, but or instead of. Jesus brought grace into fragmented situations, to draw people to himself and together.
So, instead of apologetics, I would like to apologize.
-To Starbucks, who makes mighty fine coffee and decent chocolate croissants, but who has no ‘platform’ by which they’re expected to determine what is morally appropriate or theologically correct about the celebration of Jesus’ birth. I’m sorry we Christians turned all bull-like at the sight of those red cups. Sorry we tried to tell you how to run your megazillion dollar business… although I’m sure Howard Schultz will laugh this bonanza the whole way to the bank. You all stick to grinding the beans, and let preachers and pastors everywhere meditate and teach on the word of God.
-To filmmakers who make films that are “irreligious” or conflict with what the majority of people believe about Jesus and Christians (like The Night Before), thanks for sharing your story. [In the trailer and interviews I’ve seen about Seth Rogen’s new Christmas Eve film, a group of friends get together for their last Christmas Eve night together – expressing their loss of community but Rogen’s character throws up in church after he’s drunk. I can hear some folks sharpening their knives — instead of recognizing the opportunity to share what real community looks like.] I’m sorry that we Christians forget that film is storytelling, that not everyone thinks or sees things the same way. I’m sorry we fail to recognize the inconsistencies in the Gospels – even the synoptic ones – and the thoughts that don’t jive between the Old and New Testaments. You all stick to making films of quality that stretch our hearts and minds, and let …preachers and pastors everywhere meditate and teach on the word of God.
Hey, while I’m at it –
-To the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the marginalized, the forgotten about, the abandoned, the abused, the sold-into-slavery, the hopeless, the ignored, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we, The Church, get so bogged down in defining who is not with us, that we forget we were once not with Christ, and that no matter what, there’s a spot at the table, at the barista line, at the cinema for each of you. Because there’s space here for us doesn’t mean that there isn’t space for someone else. You all keep fighting – and know that God loves you, even when The Church fails to. Know that God is bigger than prayer in school or “season’s greetings” or whatever nonsense the church makes it about because God cannot be kept out.
One day there’s a kingdom coming, where all of this will be wiped away, and there’ll only be ONE.
One God, one Lord, one Savior of us all.
Oh, wait, that’s what Christmas is really about.
Instead of being a Christian who boycotts Starbucks or throws a fit over the color of a cup, why not be the Christian who doesn’t flip out when your drink isn’t exactly like you hoped it would be? Or better yet, if you were the kind of Christian who overtips your barista? Christianity’s revolution isn’t in what it’s against but what it’s for.