- "A Musing Pastor"
Have you offered Jesus lately?
The current topic going viral on the internet and in media outlets is 'red cups' with no Christmas images on them. The company that uses 'red cups' is promoting a simplier approach to their product container. Um, okay, that's fine. Those who are upset with the change are saying the company is anti-christian. Um, I'm not sure they ever promoted themselves as a 'christian' company. The religious / secular war has ensued and I stand on the sidelines waving a flag that says, "I don't care."
First, I have a problem with a cup of coffee that drains my wallet by as much as 4+ dollars. I have frequented this company and have decided I really don't enjoy their products as much as a well known donut shop and fast food outlet that charges much less for their coffee.
Second, I have a problem with the christian community that gets up in arms about 'plain red cups' but fails to apply their faith fully into meaningful ministries in their own places of worship.
Third, I wonder how Jesus views the 'red cup'? Does he want to grab a 'cat-o-nine tails' and wreak havoc in those coffee shops? Or, does Jesus look at countless "Christian"believers who expend their lives in minimal ways for the kingdom of God? We 'followers' of Jesus argue about a lot of things in society. Yet, we'll walk right by one who needs to know the love and grace of God and not think twice about stopping to minister to them.
Fourth, I see pro 'red cup' people promote really important social justice concerns and I wonder, "Do they ever get as zealous about telling the poor and downtrodden of their need of Jesus (We live in that place of tension between meeting physical and spiritual needs.)
Really, I understand hunger, ill-health, poverty, and brokenness are all around us. Jesus mentioned that once or twice.
"The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will
not always have me." (Mark 14:7, NIV)
That is the conundrum in which we live. Jesus Christ, second person of the Trinity and Son of God came to make dead people alive. He was a great teacher and healer too. His main reason for leaving heaven and living as human was to save humanity. My allegiance to Jesus is wound tightly through the United Methodist Church. John Wesley promoted a 'balanced Gospel' and believed social justice issues were of great importance but not at the expense of salvation and assurance of faith.
Can we do both? I sure hope so; otherwise we have social justice churches that feed people but starve the soul. Or, we would have churches that feed the soul at the expense of offering food, housing, and economic help.
Where does the 'red cup' debacle leave us? Personally, I will never frequent the 'red cup' store again. It isn't about the lack of Christmas symbols on their container but more for the exorbitant prices they charge for sub-standard product. I will continue to promote social justice issues running rampant in our world. I will try to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, help those who are umemployed, and seek support for broken people. I will address the problem of sin and our need for Jesus Christ's salvation work on the cross.
Regarding social justice, if I fail to follow Matthew 25, I will be on the outside looking in.
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing
clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you
did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal
punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:44-46, NIV)
Regarding spiritual health, if I follow Matthew 18:6-7, I will be on the outside looking in.
"But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him
to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
“Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but
woe to the man through whom they come! (Matthew 18:6-7, NIV)
Let us never be out of balance in our approach to ministering to a world that Jesus came to save. I will not complain about 'naked red cups'. I will make sure my life is a living sacrifice to Jesus Christ and my offering to Him will include serving the least of these while sharing the love and grace of Christ with them.