24 July 2007

FOLLOWERS OF JESUS … WHAT ABOUT DRINKING ALCOHOL?
2nd Street Community Church | Sunday, 22 July 2007
Gregg Lamm | lead pastor-teacher

We just studied JOHN 2:1-12, the story of Jesus’ first public miracle where He turned water into wine at a wedding in a town called Cana. As a pastor-teacher who’s worked with nearly countless people who’ve struggled with alcohol addictions – and like many, if not most of you, as a human being who’s seen up-close-and-personal the pain caused by alcohol in so many people’s lives, this passage leads me to ask the question, “Is it okay for followers of Jesus Christ to drink alcohol?” I’d answer, “a qualified yes.”

Grape juice isn’t wine, and wine isn’t grape juice. In Jesus’ day there was no way to keep grape juice from fermenting so people didn’t actually drink “grape juice”. And people knew the difference between wines. What was good wine and what was bad wine. And so if this wine Jesus made hadn’t been real wine (as some Christ-followers strongly advocate) and if it hadn’t been the best wine, the people wouldn’t have asked why Jesus saved the best wine for last.

With impure water the norm, wine was the beverage of choice much of the time. But it was usually mixed with one-part wine with two or three-parts water, lowering the alcohol content considerably. Paul even recommended to Timothy to drink wine medicinally for his stomach's sake (cf., FIRST TIMOTHY 5:23); probably after he’d had some impure water.

There are over 20 million alcoholics in the USA today – which means that it is a disease that has touched, in some way or another, every one of us. In light of that staggering reality, there are three guidelines regarding alcohol that I’d like to offer you …

FIRST, DON'T GET DRUNK.
SECOND, DON'T BE DECEIVED BY ALCOHOL.
THIRD, DON’T STUMBLE SOMEONE ELSE.

FIRST, DON'T GET DRUNK. Jesus said in LUKE 21:34 … “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap.”

Paul writes in EPHESIANS 5:18, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation [indulgence], but be filled with the Spirit.” And he also writes in GALATIANS 5:19-21 that a person who is continually drunk isn’t living in the Kingdom of God and is letting their sin nature tell them how to live life instead of giving God that opportunity.
And finally, The Old Testament book of PROVERBS offers a lot of wisdom and warning about the pain and separation alcohol causes between God and His people (cf., PROVERBS 23:29-35).

SECOND, DON'T BE DECEIVED BY ALCOHOL. Again, PROVERBS has a lot of wisdom about this, as do other books in The Old Testament (cf., PROVERBS 20:1; PROVERBS 31:4-5; LEVITICUS 9:23-10:3; LEVITICUS 10:8-10).

Paul writes in FIRST CORINTHIANS 6:12 … “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” In other words, just because we may have the freedom in Jesus Christ to drink alcohol, the question we need to ask ourselves is, “Am I under its power?”

THIRD, DON’T STUMBLE SOMEONE ELSE. You may have the freedom in Jesus Christ to enjoy wine with your supper, but it's not all that easy. We live in a society where alcoholism is rampant. Is there someone watching you whose conscience will be harmed as they watch you drink? (cf., ROMANS 14:13-15)

Your response to this question might be, “Well, if it harms them or causes them to stumble, that’s not my problem?” To which I’d say …

“Brother or sister, that’s not the response Jesus Christ would have. His compassion for the hurting and the broken informed every decision He made, and every step He took. Choosing to not carefully and compassionately consider the effect our actions have on others (irregardless of our intent), is a self-centered way to live, and doesn’t mirror the heart and mind of Jesus Christ.”

If a fellow Christian who is an alcoholic sees you drinking at the table next to you in the restaurant, is it going to make him think that he can do it too? What would you think if while you were waiting for a table at the Dundee Bistro, you saw me sitting over in the bar belting back a few? I bring up these questions, because “Yes, as followers of Jesus Christ” we have great freedom when it comes to drinking alcohol … but with all the trouble that alcohol can bring, and since we don't live in a world where the only safe thing to drink is wine, then I challenge us to consider the question of “why drink alcohol?”

If you, or someone you know is struggling with issues related to alcohol, drugs, or any other hurt, habit or hang-up, consider connecting with 2ND STREET COMMUNITY CHURCH’S CELEBRATE RECOVERY PROGRAM – WHICH MEETS EACH SUNDAY EVENING FROM 6:00-8:30 P.M. IN THE CHEHALEM ARMORY YOUTH BUILDING.

Godspeed.

read.think.pray.live.

Gregg

1 comment:

NattyCAt said...

Here's a website you may find useful. http://www.addicted.com is a site for friends, families, and those who suffer from various addictions.