Starbucks has been all over social media lately, and the latest trend has been people complaining about people complaining about people complaining about Starbucks changing the decoration on their Christmas cups (No, there is not a typo in that sentence. It really is as exaggerated as that). I realize many are growing weary of this discussion, and I can understand why. This post doesn’t have so much to do about the Starbucks incident as much as it does as a reminder of a long and drawn out history of comfortable Christianity’s obsession with persecution.
Christianity has had some rough periods of persecution. The early church went through trends where a crazy emperor would want to make a lesson out of Jews and Christians. He would torture and kill them without mercy. It was an ugly time to be a Christian. Time changed things though. Eventually Christianity found itself from being persecuted to being the religion of choice. People became Christian in order to find favor with the emperor. Everything had changed.
Persecution used to be a badge of honor. When Origen was a young man his father was captured and sentenced to death. Origen wanted to die like a martyr alongside his father until his mother hid all of his clothes. Origen wanted the honor of dyeing for Jesus, but apparently was uncomfortable to do so naked. I mention this silly little story to give an idea of what persecution meant for believers. It was a privilege.
What was a Christian to do though when he was robbed of the opportunity to die for his faith? Christianity had become so popular that suddenly the best marker to show the world that you were “The best Christian” had been eliminated from popularity. This is where monasticism came in. Some of the early forms of monasticism focused mostly on going away form society and forgoing all personal possessions. The more remote and away from people you were the holier people seemed to think of you. People grew obsessed with showing how devout they were in their Christianity even if it meant removing themselves from people.
Honestly, the whole Starbucks things is just a microscopic example of a very tiny group of people obsessing over persecution, but there are so many other circumstances where it almost seems to be the norm. We want to make culture look like it is evil towards us because then we can put on a make believe badge of honor by overcoming our twisted form of “persecution.” So we remove ourselves. We distance ourselves from culture. We hide and post countless meme about keeping “Christ” in CHRISTmas. We look at any negative situation we face and say it is persecution even when the person doing us harm has no idea what our personal beliefs are.
Soon I am going to be posting a new article on a challenge I want to present to believers. A Challenge that allows us to use are bizarre obsession with social media, but to tie it with action. Actions of living out Christmas to the world rather than posting yet another meme and calling it a day. It is a challenge to get outside of our personal monasteries and realize something. The mark of Christianity is how we impact the world through the relationship we develop rather than on just how we keep ourselves pure from that world. Will wait a little bit before we start and before I go over all the “Rules.” I know people don’t like to get to much into the Christmas spirit until after Thanksgiving, but I still wanted to share this post. It goes beyond any silly little Starbucks strike. It even goes beyond this annoying call to defend ourselves of the war on Christmas. It starts with realizing that we have an opportunity to make an incredible impact because we do not face real persecution.
We have an opportunity to take actions that can truly impact people in showing the love and compassion that Christ gave when he acted on this earth. There is a time to be in the quiet and sit in the monastery to listen to God’s voice, but that is not the mark of a Christian. Come on, act on that voice. Stand up. Go!