There has been something of a firestorm in the media recently. Several weeks ago the head of a fast food chain known for their Christian values gave an interview with a state Baptist paper, and in the course of that interview affirmed that he believed in what the Bible says about marriage. He did not go further to denigrate anyone or any group, just left it at that. Well a few weeks later that article was picked up by the national Baptist Press and from there the story literally blew up. I say it blew up because the amount of people talking about this story is immense. I also say it blew up because the original content has been so twisted, distorted, and corrupted that the actual words spoken by this individual have been completely lost. It is almost as if they have been destroyed by opposing groups that have pounced on this opportunity to make a case for their side. Massive controversy for any cause tends to create an upswing in donations for both sides of the issue, so it makes monetary sense for them to play it up and caricaturize it for their benefit.
I could delve into the fray of this and express my opinion on the matter (I do have many and yes they are pointed, but probably not in a way you would expect, but if you want to know those feelings call or email me). Today I want to explore something else that has come to my mind as a result of all of this. That is; is there every a reason where believers should boycott companies or brands. Among the backlash of this recent controversy quite a few other companies have declared their stance to be exactly opposite of what some media is portraying this fast food chain head to have said. I have had the thought, should I continue to do business with these companies?
Should I drink Starbucks coffee anymore? I mean I have put a lot of work in building up my stars on my Starbucks gift card and am almost too gold level, plus Pumpkin Spice Latte’s come out soon. Should I shop at Target? My wife and I really like Target and we buy a lot there; clothes, presents, baby stuff, (oh crap all of Bo’s baby furniture is from Target so if I decide to boycott them do I need to burn it and build him new stuff?) , we get our prescriptions there and so much more. Should I support J. C. Penny’s? I don’t really shop there anyway. Should I be against Jim Henson and the Muppets? I grew up with Kermit, and Big Bird and my sister’s nickname was Oscar the Grouch. Should I be a PC & Windows guy? I prefer Mac, but I am typing this on a windows based Compaq laptop. (Here is my shameless plug for someone buying me a new MacBook, Pro or Air I am not picky and my birthday is this week after all J )
I went goofy with several of these reasons not to boycott some of these companies. Yes I could handle losing the benefits of my Starbucks gift card, and as painful as this is to type I could forgo Pumpkin Spice Latte’s, I mean I do love the Pumpkin Spice creamer that comes out about the same time (oh wait Target usually has it before Wal-Mart…dang, talk about suffering for Jesus, I might have to wait longer for Pumpkin flavored coffee…1st world hipster problems indeed.) What I could not handle though is destroying or walking away from the relationships I have been building with several of the Starbucks employees that work at the location near my job.
Could my wife and I get everything we currently purchase at Target elsewhere? Yes we could easily. I mean we live in the Bible Belt South, A.K.A. a Wal-Mart Super Center every mile and a Walgreens & CVS at every intersection land. However switching pharmacies would be difficult but not impossible, yet again we would be walking away from relationships where we have been seeking to be salt and light.
Wow boycotting these companies might be a lot harder than I expected. What to do? What to do? Oh let’s see what the Bible says, I think Paul said something about whether or not we should expect non-believers to act like Believers or not.
9I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—10not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?13God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
Paul is telling the believers at Corinth to not expect those outside the Gospel to live according to the standards of God. I think this is a needed truth for not only this situation but for the Evangelical world in this day and age. We should expect those not under the Gospel to live like those not under the Gospel. Yes, we go and share the Gospel with them, but we do not hold them to that standard. Let’s just be brutally honest for a second none of us in the Gospel are capable of living up to the standards of it on our own, we had to have Jesus to get us in, and we have to rely on Jesus to make it through every second of the day. So why are we expecting them to do what we cannot do. That is ludicrous.
So maybe there is a better way to live than expecting non-believers to live like believers, and boycotting them when they live like non-believers. In fact I think Jesus shared one in His first sermon; you know the one on the side of the mountain.
13“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.15Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16
Hmmm. Salt and light. I have done quite a bit of research into salt and into checking how salt could ever lose its saltiness. I even reached back to knowledge from the days spent in Wood Science Building at OBU when I was still pre-med to figure this out. I won’t go through all of the boring chemistry of this for you, but know this salt has to be corrupted at a deep molecular level to stop being salt. That box of Morton’s salt in your cabinet could last forever, but to truly be salt and perform its function it has to get out of that box, and even out of the salt shaker you pour it into and onto some food. It has to go out of a place of homogeneity and into a world filled with things much different than itself. For us to be salt, we have to go to places much different than our comfort zones. We have to get out of the salt shaker and onto the plate.
Light is similar. Light shines the brightest in darkness. If we keep all of the light in one place, that will be a very bright place but we will not be shining as brightly as we could. The light is on in my home office, a lamp is on behind me, my window is open to let in the early morning sun, there is light from my laptop. This is a well lit room right now. If I were to light a candle or turn on a flashlight right now it would not do much good. However there is no light in the closet in this office/room. Some of the light seeps in, but to really see in the back corners I need a flashlight. That same flashlight that does little good in this bright room all of a sudden shines forth so brightly in that dark closet. Light simply shines brighter in darkness. If we are going to be lights that reflect Christ then we have to go into the darkness. For me to reflect the light of Christ to those Starbucks employees I have to go where they are, not exclude them from my life.
In the 1 Corinthians passage I quoted earlier Paul says that if we are to avoid all of the sexually immoral, greedy, swindlers, and immoral of this world, then we would need to leave the world. I love this verse; its truth is so beautiful. We cannot seclude ourselves from the world. Also consider this verse just a few lines down in 1 Corinthians.
9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.11And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Did you catch that? There in verse 11. Paul has just gone through a similar list saying these people will not inherit the kingdom of God, then he drops this Gospel bomb onto them; and such were some of you. Wow. We are just like those we want to avoid and boycott, the only difference is someone took the time to share the Gospel with us. We were not washed, sanctified, or justified on our own. No God drew us to Himself, and made us an irresistible offer of Grace. There is a really high chance than in this process He used someone sharing the Gospel with us as part of the plan. Perhaps it was the public proclamation of a preacher or maybe the one-on-one of a friend or family member. But it was still someone that did not avoid or boycott us.
We need to do the same for others, even if they work for companies of differing values.