Controversy. Sparks opinions doesn’t it? And usually not in light fashion? Drugs, drones, gun control, to war or no; the world is full of flared tempers, aiming to guide us in which way we should go. The same is true even in the Church. Or shall we say, “especially” in the Church. I’m surprised how much disparity in discussion there is concerning homosexuals, abortions, moves of the Spirit, even the color of the carpet. But what about alcohol?
I’ll be right up front and state that I don’t drink. Not saying I never will. Just stating that, as of now, I do not. Before I met Christ I drank a lot. Never felt any physical dependence for it. What really happened was that I fell into the trap of thinking that all fun depended upon it. Hold the beer up for the photo – my identity became entangled in it. It became the apex prescription for being cool, for being accepted. Many go down that road. A good number of those, God knows how many, take the plunge; become alcoholics. Don’t believe I went that far. Could very well have, had time allowed, had Christ delayed. But He didn’t.
This subject can lean so many ways and we’ve probably already heard a whole onslaught of opinions. We know what WE feel, what our parents said, what our Pastor believes, and what our peers are currently saying. Instead, I’d rather take an honest gaze as to what the Word of God has to say concerning not just the issue itself, but His principles in guiding us as lovers. The question is whether we want to continue in our own frame, or align with God’s heart concerning the subject. Please, don’t back out now. There’s something here for everyone.
Let’s get right down to it. Jesus drank. No question. Luke 33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ (ESV). Right here, Jesus is making the point that the Pharisees were neither satisfied with either Jesus’ nor John’s lifestyle. The fact was that it wasn’t their lifestyle, in terms of food and drink, that bothered them, rather the harsh reality of truth that they spoke. In fact, they are so upset with Jesus, they take the truth of His partaking of drink and embellish upon it, as to make Him someone that is not fit to be heard. Essentially, they are trying to dishonor Him. And yet the fact remains, that they had something to embellish upon. For Jesus, point blank, admits, He drinks.
And what about the Wedding at Cana? Let’s face it, we don’t go around purposely multiplying things we’re anti towards, do we? One might say, “Well, that was Jesus, and He was God, and so He was the ultimate of responsible individuals.” Except…He broke bread and drank wine with His disciples as well. “Yeah, but He was right there with them!” Let us not forget how Apostle Paul actually encourages young Timothy to take of some drink in order to calm his nerves or relax his stomach (1 Tim 5:23).
Ok. Let’s take another look at the aspects of God. Remember that tree in the Garden? Not the good tree. The bad one. Guess what? God put that there. Yes, God placed a bad tree in a good garden. Why? Because He wanted man to have choices. His desire was not to control us, but to give us a free will that chose to love Him rather than bind us with rules to make us do things. It was plan A. What am I saying, “That alcohol is equivalent to the bad tree?” Heavens No. What I’m saying is that God, when Adam and Eve set the fruit near their lips, He did not jump down or run over to them in a panicked frenzy, yelling “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Did He? What did He do? Nothing.
God was mad. The fullness of love that existed between He and man, now had a big fat stain, un-washable by human hands. His heart was both broken for humanity, as well as angry for His Bride’s adulterated decision. It was scandalous. What said the angels? Dare they say anything? It was a dark and dreary day, and yet God, in all His hurt, in all His anger, came forth with a hilariously, glorious plan – one that had been staged even well before the foundations of the earth: Redemption. Restoration. Love. Oh yeah, by choice, the Israelites would lend themselves to the law for a good while. But a day would come when Jesus would free us from the letter of it. And on a side note, the law was God’s most loving way of leading a people group who’s desire was not a personal relationship with Him. Notice how the ones who did desire Him, entered into a place of grace through the midst of it. Interesting?
See, it’s not about whether or not we should or shouldn’t drink. What does the word say? “Drink, but don’t be drunk”. Why do we have a problem with that? How is it that we can admit that as being a Biblical precedence, and yet whenever we see or hear of another believer drinking, that little flame shoots up inside and we proceed to go to war against their doing so? “Well, we don’t want to be stumbling blocks to those who have a problem with drinking. Ya know, the alcoholics.” Of course we don’t. We don’t want to sit down and eat with them, knowing full well they struggle, yet proceed to pull out the Red Wine or Budweiser. That would be ridiculous cruelty, would it not? “Oh, but what if they see me buying it at the grocery store or having a glass at a restaurant?” So what? So what? So what…I mean, I get that, but where does the word state that we should live in bondage over the issue? It doesn’t. What really appears to be occurring is that the one’s who truly have the issue with alcohol are us.
Even though John the Baptist and Jesus’ lifestyles were appearingly contrast to one another, they themselves were yet in full agreement. And yeah, there are those in the body who ought not partake from the fruit of the vine, either because of a Nazarite Vow, a call from God to set a higher standard, or an ado to their unhealthy mindset concerning such. I get that. In fact, that’s where this argument turns the corner.
I’m really not comfortable with the fact that every time I turn around, there is a discussion about freedom that involves the issue of alcohol or other pleasures for fleshly purposes. What will it take for us to see our freedom as a means to worshipping God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. “Are things are permissible, but not all are edifying” (1 Cor 10:23). The fact that we place alcohol as the apex of our freedom is a crystal clear insignia that we do not have a real understanding to what our real freedom is for. We love to taunt those who do not agree with us as being “religious”. But let me offer you this: False Religion is having an unbalanced extreme of believing that shuts the door of our hearing on any other ideas. That said, it may be that both extremes, whether ‘drinking’ or ‘absolutely not’, may fall under the formula of a religious mindset.
As I stated earlier, when speaking of my own days of drinking, how there was the tendency to do it from a platform of low self-esteem, I cannot help but notice that the same sickness plagues many of the believers, even Spirit Filled, who have made the decision to go down that path. This should not be. That is not where our identity is supposed to lie. And that is why Paul, inspired by Holy Spirit, stated in Eph 5:18 “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (ESV). We hear much concerning our freedom to drink, yet so little about correct motives for doing so. This too is irresponsible.
I realize that this is a hard row to hoe for some. It’s a process. In fact, my own resolve concerning it did not come in full til a few years ago, when we moved to South Carolina. It was here that I found so many who did it, and did it responsibly. Who did it without shame or show. Who did it with a Holy integrity. Jesus said, “judge them by their fruit”. I have done so, and found it to be good. What more can we say?