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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Thoughts from the Past - Stumbling Stones or Stepping Stones? Can We Use It for God’s Glory?

 

Here is an item I wrote years ago that is still thought-provoking and worth considering.  As Christians, we need to stop reacting violently to various aspects of our culture and consider how we might use some situations to preach the Gospel, to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:14-16  Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;  Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

[This has been edited.]

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Some years ago a friend sent me a clip from David Cloud’s Way of Life web page:

STARBUCKS PRINTING ANTI-BIBLE SLOGANS ON CUPS

As part of its "The Way I See It" campaign to collect different viewpoints, the Starbucks coffee chain is printing anti-Bible slogans on coffee cups. A quote written by Bill Schell, a Starbucks customer in London, Ontario, says: "Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure." Another quote, written by Joel Stein, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, says: "Heaven is totally overrated. It seems boring. Clouds, listening to people play the harp. It should be somewhere you can't wait to go, like a luxury hotel. Maybe blue skies and soft music were enough to keep people in line in the 17th century, but Heaven has to step it up a bit. They're basically getting by because they only have to be better than Hell." Starbucks argues that the slogans are printed on the cups merely to "spur discussion," but they are giving people a large forum for spouting anti-Bible views and the company is accountable for what is printed on their cups. Tricia Moriarty, Starbucks communications manager, said: "We are committed to this program. ... Certainly, we have no plans to remove any of them" ("Starbucks Markets More 'Anti-God' Coffee Cups, WorldNetDaily, May 9, 2007). Starbucks is based in Seattle, Washington, a lovely city that is a bastion of Humanistic, New Age philosophy. www.wayoflife.org

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This is outdated, but the point holds true for other things besides Starbucks coffee shops. The point that I see is not that these places should so much be boycotted or rebuked by Christians, but (as long as they are places where Christians should be at all) that their foolishness should be turned back on them and used as openings for preaching the gospel.

Paul did not avoid the market places because meat offered to idols was sold there. The idol is nothing (1 Cor. 8:4). He also did not see souls saved in Caesar's household (Php. 4:22) by rebuking Caesar openly for his many vile habits, killing and persecuting Christians, and leading a corrupt government.

The verse that comes to mind is:

Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

What's the point of this "blurb" on Starbucks? The world has always acted like the world. They've been blaspheming God for centuries and will continue to do so. By the very fact that they attack the Bible and the Christian faith so persistently, they are admitting that it is the most important religion to attack; that God is the true, all powerful God; that heaven and hell are real. The other religions/gods are generally socially acceptable to them because they are of their father the devil. 

John 17:14  I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

John 15:18-19  If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

The good news is that by printing these cups they are inadvertently giving an open invitation for Christians to testify of Christ and witness in their shops. A simple question - "Do you agree with this?" - asked in a friendly tone of voice could lead to a real "door of utterance".

Did Mr. Cloud miss this? He doesn't clearly tell us his motive in repeating the above item (at least not in what I saw). Are we to boycott Starbucks or…what? It seems like it would be better to turn this into an opportunity to testify of the truth - not in a rude or overbearing way, but to invite discussion whereby we may lead someone to Christ.

The point is this: Instead of flying off the handle or being shocked or dismayed at such open displays of godlessness, we should be inspired to find ways to turn them around so that God is glorified and the gospel preached.

Psalm 76:10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.

We should seek God's wisdom and help to do this very thing if He so leads us.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

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What areas of life at present do you see where this could apply?

 

[By the way, don't think I'm defending my "favorite" coffee shop. Starbucks coffee is overrated. ;-)  I don't even drink coffee except for medicinal purposes.]

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