Sunday, March 10, 2013

Right Of Way

Ye are not under the law, but ye are under grace! Romans 6:14 is the most freeing verse in the New Testament! It is simply amazing that God has sent His Son to completely fulfill the law in our stead and then to take the penalty for our failure to keep it to remove us from the ritual lifestyle of temple worship. We are no longer tied to sacrifices and dietary restrictions (yeah bacon!) to be able to maintain our relationship with Him. We can have a relationship with Him! We have access to God through a great High Priest who has experienced all of the temptations and hardships we have and is still without sin. We have instant access to this God.

But how far does this liberty allow us to go?

That truly is the wrong question to ask. If you need to define where the line of sin is, you should be as far away from that line as possible.

This past week during chapel at the big Bob, the topic was alcohol and the Christian. Throughout the entire week, social media exploded with "haters" who railed against the stand that this college took, insisting that because it was not strictly forbidden in Scripture, we should, as Christians, be allowed to consume alcohol on a social level. Please note, I am not talking about stuff like mouthwash and vanilla extract, but alcohol in the sense of beer, wine, or distilled liquors.

For me, the choice is clear for all Christians: we need to abstain from alcohol.

The purpose of our life as Christians is to glorify God in all that we say, do, eat, or drink. Glory can be defined as the visible manifestation of God's essence. (Thanks Pastor Mike. :) ) When we are consuming alcohol, can we truly say that this drink will be the best option to show my God to those around me? Well, it's just a drink, who really cares? Well, speaking from experience, the world knows that alcohol is not something Christians "do". I have worked in a secular environment where there were alcohol parties on a regular basis. I was among the youngest employees, yet I was over the legal drinking age. Everyone around me knew that I was a Christian. I never hid it, but rather proclaimed it as my reason for everything I did and how I responded. When the beers were passed around, I was asked if I would take one. When I gave my reason (which I will explain later) my co-worker shrugged it off. A few days later, she approached me and told me that if I had taken a drink, she would not have been able to believe that I was a Christian anymore. What's the big deal? One drink will not make me drunk.

The big deal is we are associated with our choices. Drinking of all kinds has been negatively associated in recent days as being a decidedly non-Christian activity.

In addition to this, medically it is truly unwise. The idea that I will not get drunk after one drink is actually not true. After one drink, your body has been affected. The alcohol enters your blood stream and begins to inhibit your vision and reasoning skills. You are no longer able to fully control your body. We are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to control us and not some other substance. It is fairly universally agreed among Christians that social drug use is to be condemned because you lose control over yourself. Why should anyone freely give up control simply because the Bible does not expressly forbid it? The principles are there in Scripture, Christians have chosen to ignore it.

Alcohol also is a poison and has been shown to increase the risk for cancer as well as self-inflicted injuries (car wrecks), and kidney/liver/stomach failure.

But they drank wine in the Bible! True, but not in the same way that it is drank now. Wine was always diluted with water... even among gentiles. Even the Romans, with their promiscuous ways, did not drink straight wine. The purpose of wine was to cleanse the water to make it drinkable. We have all seen the commercials on TV for charities dedicated to bringing good water to third world countries. In the times of the Bible, there was little understanding of sanitation processes. The idea of bacteria was not even conceived. There was simply the knowledge that if you added a small amount of wine to water, it would make it drinkable. The alcohol would kill the bacteria. (Wait, aren't we filled with good bacteria...?) Even now when traveling to other countries, the advice always is to not drink the water, unless you are able to somehow kill the germs (most likely by boiling the water).

The wine in the Bible was also not as intense alcoholically as it is now. We have sought out the way to get a buzz from this drink and have discovered distillation processes that were not possible with the technology available back then. Again, we are should not allow ourselves to be controlled by anything other then the Holy Spirit.

Consider again your testimony. I know people who were alcoholics. We are judged in our actions towards and around them. In 1 Corinthians 10, we have the illustration of the meat offered to idols. True, the meat itself was not bad, nor was it expressly forbidden. But Paul clearly shows that we are judged not only by our own personal conscience, but of those around us. I have already shown that the unsaved do not think it right for Christians to drink, but it is also true that there are Christians who have either personally struggled with alcoholism or have family who have struggled with it. Would it not be best to give up a small liberty for the sake of a brother?

Perhaps it is because my desire is to be in full time ministry, but I cannot see why any Christian would chose to imbibe socially. Consider carefully everything you do and seek to do all things completely and totally for the glory of God. Do not allow yourselves to "claim your freedom" because it is available.

When I was preparing to take the test to get my driving permit, I was told that there was no law that absolutely gave anyone the right of way. We are merely told who is to yield the right of way. The same is true of Christians. We are not told when we have the right to do something we are told to yield to those around us.

Because of Him,

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