The Radically Normal Christian:
Part VII: Drinking to the Glory of God
October 30, 2011
SCRIPTURE READING: Deut. 7:11-13 (Michel Jevons)
KNOWN FOR NOT DRINKING?
When I finish this book, I know the most CONTROVERSIAL CHAPTER will be “Drinking to the glory of God.” I’ve already experienced some of the controversy around drinking and the church.
* The COMMUNION INCIDENT.
Q WHY should I BROACH this subject? Isn’t it better to leave it alone? Wouldn’t I sell more books and get a better PUBLISHER?
After a lot of BACK and FORTH, I have come to believe that this will be one of the MOST IMPORTANT chapters in the book, for two big reasons.
1. This is one of the things that make us the WEIRDEST to non-Christians.
* BILL KIESELHORST story.
JOHN MACARTHUR wrote a post about how drinking is becoming more acceptable in some churches.1 Knowing how much I disagree with him on many things, I was expecting a rant, but it wasn’t bad.
I agreed with his basic point: DRINKING is not what the church should be KNOWN FOR. I completely agree. But, neither should we be known for not-drinking.
* And NOT DRINKING is what we are KNOWN for.
2. Almost no one TEACHES us how to DRINK or NOT drink to God’s GLORY.
It is my observation that most Christians drink but most churches PRETEND CHRISTIANS DON’T DRINK. There is an old joke that says there are three groups that DON’T ACKNOWLEDGE another:
* JEWS don’t acknowledge Jesus Christ.
* PROTESTANTS don’t acknowledge the Pope.
* And BAPTISTS don’t acknowledge each other in the liquor store.
And if we PRETEND Christians don’t drink, how can we TEACH them to drink to God’s glory, as the Bible says:
1 Corinthians 10:31 31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
* We need to also teach how to NOT DRINK to God’s glory, without JUDGMENT and WEIRDNESS.
Instead, we have created this AREA where GOD and the CHURCH are NOT WELCOME into, and that is never a good thing.
If people don’t see a DIRECT CONNECTION between what happens SATURDAY NIGHT and SUNDAY MORNING, it is no surprise when bad stuff happens on Saturday night.
* So that is why I am willing to BRAVE the CONTROVERSY to talk about this topic.
Let’s take a look at drinking through the N/R/RNX LENS:
It is normal to DRINK and get PLASTERED. Everyone agrees that HARMING others because of your drinking is bad, but other than that, drinks away. Peter described it well:
1 Peter 4:3-4 NIV 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.
On the other hand it is RADICAL to go to the opposite extreme: ABSTAIN from all drink. It’s TOO DANGEROUS, it’s not worth it, we should be MORE HOLY, and of course, we don’t want to make a “WEAKER BROTHER STUMBLE.”
But it is RADICALLY NORMAL to view alcohol as a BLESSING when used to God’s glory but a CURSE when misused.
* Even if you DON’T DRINK, you still need to hear this in order to build a Biblical view of alcohol.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
Let’s look at what the BIBLE actually SAYS about alcohol:
I looked up EVERY PLACE that BEER, WINE, and STRONG DRINK occurs in the Bible (215x). If we want to accurately represent what the Bible says, that seems like a good place to start.
Q How do you think the BIBLE VIEWS ALCOHOL, on a scale of 1-5, 1 being very negative and 5 very positive?
* The Bible soundly CONDEMNS DRUNKENNESS, but is OVERWHELMINGLY POSITIVE about ALCOHOL itself.
In fact of all the times it talks about alcohol itself, not when it is MISUSED or being used as a ANALOGY of something else, only 3% of the time is it treated as a bad thing.
Here is what it says:
1. God CREATED wine! It GLADDENS our hearts (Ps 104:15).2
2. God LIKES wine! We think of ANIMAL SACRIFICES, but God also required a sacrifice of WINE (22x).3
3. And it is exceedingly obvious that JESUS DRANK wine.
4. Wine is a BLESSING of God, a DEMONSTRATION of HIS love and RICH PROVISION (25x).
Not only is the Promised Land called a land of MILK and HONEY, it is also described a land of bread and wine:
NIV Deuteronomy 7:13 He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land-- your grain, new wine and oil-- the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that he swore to your forefathers to give you.
You’ve probably heard the quote “Beer is a sure sign that God loves us and want us to be happy.” BENJAMIN FRANKLIN didn’t say that, but here is what he said:
Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.4
This is one of the most BIBLICALLY ACCURATE things he said!
5. When God TAKES AWAY WINE, it is a sign they are under JUDGMENT (13x).
Haggai 1:11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.
I know there is some joke in there about DRY SCHOOLS being under judgment, but I can’t find it.
6. Wine is a SYMBOL of JOY and God’s RICH BLESSING – which adds a new dimension to COMMUNION!
The ANCIENT RABBIS had a saying, “Without wine there can be no joy.” At the PASSOVER celebration, the cups are supposed to be filled to the brim, symbolizing fullness of joy.
7. MISUSE of the alcohol is CONDEMNED. DRUNKENNESS is soundly condemned.
Interestingly, while wine is a symbol of God’s blessing, DRUNKENNESS is a SYMBOL of his JUDGMENT. That fitting when you think of the guy praying to porcelain god.
Galatians 5:19-21 NIV The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
* It’s on God’s DIRTY DOZEN!
As CHRISTIANS become MORE FREE with drinking I’ve watched us MINIMIZE the SIN of getting drunk. It’s not CUTE, it isn’t “NAUGHTY,” it isn’t FREEDOM. It is SIN, every TIME.
* Not “GOING to HELL” sin (nothing is), but a REPENT and STRIVE not to do it again sin.
A GOOD THING MISUSED
Some argue that since DRINKING can lead to DRUNKENNESS it would be best to NOT DRINK at all. However “SEXUAL IMMORALITY” is also on the list but no one argues we should stop all sex!
One ATHEIST FRIEND of mine posted a list of supposed Biblical CONTRADICTIONS because the Bible approved of alcohol but condemns drunkenness. That seems rather OBVIOUS to me:
* ALCOHOL GOOD, MISUSED BAD – that works for a lot of things.
The DEVIL loves nothing more that to take something that was MEANT to be a BLESSING and make it a CURSE; and DRUNKENNESS makes DRINK a CURSE.
* SHORT TERM: WORDS or ACTIONS we regret, DUI’s. Even ONE TIME can get us into big trouble if we are unlucky.
* LONG TERM: A life of DRUNKENNESS destroys LIVES and FAMILIES in unimaginable ways.
God doesn’t call it sin because he DOESN’T WANT us to have a GOOD TIME, but because he wants to SAVE us from a WORLD of PAIN:
* Appx. 14 MILLION Americans (1 in 13 adults) ABUSE alcohol.
* Alcohol is the THIRD leading CAUSE of preventable DEATH
* Drunk drivers are responsible for 50% of HIGHWAY FATALITIES
* Alcohol is a factor in nearly HALF of America’s MURDERS, SUICIDES, and ACCIDENTAL deaths
These facts make it very HARD for many Christians to see wine as a BLESSING, for indeed it is a CURSE to them.
* Many people, including those in our church, choose not to drink because of its painful association.
GUIDELINES FOR GLORIFYING GOD
The SUM of the matter: It is RADICALLY NORMAL to view alcohol as a blessing when used to God’s glory but a curse when misused.
Q So how do we DRINK, or NOT DRINK, to God’s GLORY?
1. First, IDENTIFY and ACKNOWLEDGE your BACKGROUND.
I doubt anyone comes to drinking with a NEUTRAL PERSPECTIVE:
* Some of you have been hurt by OTHER’S ALCOHOLISM
* Some have ABUSED it or don’t know how to be moderate.
* Some of you are RUNNING AWAY from LEGALISM.
It is vital to understand that this is a “DISPUTABLE MATTER,” a practice Christians DISAGREE on. Paul addressed such things:
Romans 14:22-23 22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
There are things YOU CAN DO that I can’t.
* I hate HORROR FLICKS, that doesn’t mean they are wrong.
There are things I can do that you can’t. Think of these things like ALLERGIES; we’re all different – beware putting your RESTRICTIONS on OTHERS.
* Paul uses the analogy of STRONGER and WEAKER BROTHERS to describe ones who can and can’t enjoy certain joys.
Romans 15:1-3 NIV We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
2. Show LOVE and GRACE towards each other: Drinkers, don’t INJURE a weaker brother; Non-drinkers, don’t JUDGE a stronger brother. 5
Romans 14:1-4 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2 One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Stop worrying so much about what FREEDOMS OTHERS can engage in. At the same time, the STRONGER must be careful not to try to talk a weaker one into ENGAGING in something HARMFUL to him.
* Some believers think they should HIDE BUYING BEER, and for their circumstance that might be appropriate, but I DISAGREE.
For a weaker brother to KNOW that you have GREATER FREEDOMS is not a STUMBLING BLOCK. If it were, Paul wouldn’t BROADCAST that eating meat sacrificed to idol was FINE, or that those who think else wise are WEAKER.
If I were to put “start DRINKING BEER” on the COMMUNICATION CARD, that would be “causing a brother to fall!”
Now to those of us who DRINK, here is how to drink to God’s glory:
3. Don’t get DRUNK
Q What is drunk?
I CAN’T give a certain BAC. FEELING the drink is not being drunk, not being ALLOWED to DRIVE isn’t necessarily drunk. Being PASSED OUT is. It is somewhere between there.
It is somewhere around the point that you LOSE CONTROL and no longer ACT in a MANNER that GLORIFIES God to those around you.
Very often DRUNKENNESS is a GATEWAY SIN:
* You lose our TEMPERS
* You get CRASS and UNBECOMING, play grab-bum.
* You become DISRESPECTFUL to your spouse and others.
If you are a drinker: Think about your HABITS. Do you strive towards HOLINESS? That DOESN’T mean “DRINK less,” it means don’t get drunk. I want you to STRIVE for NEVER GETTING drunk.
4. OBEY the LAWS of the land.
Regardless of your feelings on MINIMUM AGE or the OPEN CONTAINER law, obey the law. To do otherwise is not simply disobey the State of Washington, but God.
* TEENAGERS – if you are drinking you are with people who are already making BAD CHOICES.
5. Ensure that you are not MASTERED by anything or that you are not INJURING your HEALTH.
* Not just alcohol! CAFFEINE, NICOTINE, FOOD, TV.
* Can you give it up for a time? LENT is a great opportunity.
6. Is alcohol becoming a SUBSTITUTE for something else?
Do you need a drink to RELAX? Do you grab a beer when you a DEPRESSED? You are on DANGEROUS GROUND.
* If you ever use anything to help you ignore deeper issues or pain, you are costing yourself health.
7. Look for OPPORTUNITIES to bring GLORY to God through your DRINKING or ABSTAINING.
The fact that I am a DRINKING PASTOR OPENS some DOORS and closes OTHERS; and the same is true of you.
* Story of HOUSE WARMING.
At the same time, I choose NOT to DRINK at OTHER OCCASIONS. Never choose a DRINK over SERVING others.
Q Are you NORMAL, RADICAL, or RADICALLY NORMAL?
Discuss this in COMMUNITY GROUP because there is so much more to this topic.
* PPT: Please text Janna; service is almost over: 333-4505
Q & A
2 Any explanation that says that this is non-alcoholic wine is nothing sort of silly. First of all, without the use of pasteurization, grape juice begins to ferment immediately. Second, this word for wine (yayin) is used when Noah got drunk.
3 There are just too many references here to list. See the complete word study:
4 Benjamin Franklin in a letter addressed to André Morellet, 1779.
5 A lot more needs to be said about this, so I’d encourage you to check out my sermon “Accept One Another”: http://bit.ly/tgmv033