How Serving Fried Chicken to People on the Street Illustrates the Gospel

Posted on June 23, 2016 in Sexuality, Theology by

Chik-Fil-A Orlando strongHow Chik-fil-A responded to the Orlando nightclub shooting sets an example for people everywhere, especially Christians.

Most people know that Chik-fil-A is closed on Sundays. The Christians owned and operated restaurant closes on one of the busiest days of the week in order to allow employees to attend church or just spend time with their families. While most food chains are serving church-goers as they leave worship each Sunday, Chik-fil-A is giving people a day of rest.

And yet Chik-fil-A stands as one of the most successful restaurants in America, and certainly one of the top chicken chains. This is due largely to the fact that making a buck isn’t their priority. Chik-fil-A’s highest priority is to “glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Now, some would say they have failed at that goal. Back in 2012 Chik-fil-A was attacked in response to CEO Dan Cathy’s support of traditional marriage. I’m not sure why that is a surprise. This is a company that has been Christian owned and operated by the Cathy family for decades; they play Christian music in their restaurants, and close on Sundays to give their employees the chance to attend church. Is it really all that surprising that the owner supports the biblical definition of marriage?

Just recently, in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged New Yorkers to boycott Chik-fil-A for their “message of hate.”

So when the tragic shooting in an Orlando nightclub happened a couple of weeks ago very early on a Sunday morning, all the local Chik-fil-A stores were empty and closed. That was about to change.

Long lines were forming as the families and friends of victims of the shooting sought to help by donating blood. Many people stood in long lines for hours waiting their turn to donate, and that’s when local Chik-fil-A owners saw an opportunity to fulfill their promise to “have a positive influence” on the community.

Todd Starnes, writing for Fox News, shares what happened:

“Team members at two nearby Chick-fil-A restaurants figured those folks must be getting hungry. So somebody flipped on the lights and they started frying chicken. Before long they were serving sandwiches and nuggets and sweet tea to all the folks waiting to donate blood – along with a host of law enforcement personnel…The following day many of their restaurants provided free chicken biscuits and orange juice to firefighters and police officers and first responders.”

Of course the sight of Chik-fil-A employees handing out free food to people waiting in line to give blood caught the attention of local and national news. Most simply reported on the good deeds of the chicken chain. Few thought about why Chik-fil-A was willing to go against their normal protocol on a Sunday and open up to serve food.

Christians are often painted in a negative light when it comes to homosexuals. Because Christians oppose the homosexual lifestyle it is assumed that we hate gay people. But nothing could be further from the truth. In reality Christians love people, all people. Regardless of color, race, creed, or sexual orientation, Christians are called to love people with the love of Christ. It is that love that drives us to serve people, even people we disagree with. The same cannot be said for our accusers.

Part of loving people with the love of Christ is to share the truth with them. Just as Christ told a woman to stop sleeping around and living with someone she was not married to (John 4:7-26); the command of Jesus is to call people to repentance. This means calling homosexual people to repent of their sin and seek the forgiveness that can only be found in Jesus.

But this is not a message of hate; this is a message of unconditional love and forgiveness found in the only One able to forgive sins. And we all need to be forgiven. People make the mistake of thinking that homosexuality is a worse sin than others or the only sin that Christians point out. But Jesus called us to repent of all sins, including lust, envy, lying, drunkenness, and anger.

What we see in Chik-fil-A’s actions is a practical demonstration of the Gospel: holding to biblical convictions while seeking to love and serve the people around us. The employees of Chik-fil-A that decided to open on Sunday were “being the church” by loving and worshipping God through their service to people.

The next time someone tells you Chik-fil-A hates gay people I would ask that you remember this account. Remember that it was Chik-fil-A, not Starbucks or Target, that took extra-ordinary action to minister to hurting people through a simple act of kindness. There was no parade, no news conference, no trumpet blowing, just a few kind people that wanted to show their neighbors how much they loved them. Chik-fil-A has proven once again that it is entirely possible to live in peace with people you disagree with if you are willing.

Though they didn’t want the attention, a statement released by Chik-fil-A for why they decided to open on a Sunday read:

“We love our city and love the people in our community…We are appalled by the senseless crime that was committed this weekend, but we are part of a community that stands strong and stands together.”

Standing together doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. We don’t have to see eye to eye on every issue. But we do have to respect one another and the different views we hold. While Chik-fil-A could have held a grudge and refused to serve people that have in the past chosen to attack them for their position on marriage. They, instead, chose to love. They chose to be tolerant and serve their neighbors.

This is what biblical Christianity and truly loving people looks like. Many thanks to the people of Chik-fil-A for their gracious act of kindness. And thanks to the Cathy family for their corporate culture of love and serving people despite our differences. I appreciate your example.

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