Negative responses to Coca-Cola ad could underscore idol of patriotism, hinder Gospel

When Coca Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” ad aired during the 2014 Super Bowl, not all viewers thought the commercial was patriotic or beautiful.

Panning through scenes from the east coast to the west, the ad played “America the Beautiful” sung in nine different languages, including Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin.

Backlash arose from the medley of languages, as tweeters went to the social medium to air angry reactions. Fox News’ Todd Starnes tweeted multiple times, sharing his less-than-positive opinion: “Couldn’t make out that song they were singing. I only speak English.” “So was Coca-Cola saying America is beautiful because new immigrants don’t learn to speak English?”

Other viewers weren’t so “witty,” but just as harsh: “@CocaCola has America the Beautiful being sung in different languages in a #SuperBowl commercial? We speak ENGLISH here, IDIOTS.”

But as Christians, what’s our take on the idea presented in this ad? Did we see it as an assault to strongly held patriotic values?

As Americans, God has blessed us with incredible privileges, and Christians should honor the gift that is our country. But when we hold our U.S. citizenship on a higher plane than our citizenship of Christ’s Kingdom, we’ve created an idol of patriotism in our hearts.

Yes, English is the most widely spoken language in the U.S. Yes, U.S. citizens hold dear the privilege to sing “America the Beautiful” in patriotic pride, and we most always sing it in English.

But the U.S. hasn’t always existed, and the history of the United States of America recalls a country founded and built by millions of people from other countries. Not all of them spoke English.

Our background isn’t “American.” It’s German, Jordanian, Chilean, Norwegian, Filipino, Moroccan, Ukrainian, Mexican, Kenyan and Vietnamese — and so many more. We’re united as citizens of the U.S.

In a similar way, when we become Christians, we become citizens of Christ’s Kingdom, no matter our gender, ethnicity or cultural background. As children of the King, we are commanded to embrace others in welcoming love. Scripture doesn’t command us to love only those who speak the same language or who have similar cultural values.

While this Coca-Cola ad doesn’t present a Gospel message, our feelings toward the ad could reveal that American pride precedes Christlike love in our hearts. If we choose to stake our ground in the values of patriotism and our national language, could we possibly squelch the spread of the Gospel by refusing to embrace others who are not like us?

In Colossians 3, Paul penned this idea of unity: “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”

If Christ is all, and in all, Christians should be first to set aside national pride for the bigger, most important cause: embracing others to further the Gospel.