Christians, Alcohol… and all other things…
It’s interesting to me that queries from Christians about the consumption of alcohol are generally framed as questions of permission. It’s common to hear the enquiry prefaced “Is it OK for a Christian to…” or “Is a Christian allowed to / permitted to / free to…” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a believer ask, “Does a Christian have to drink alcohol… Must a Christian drink alcohol?”
It seems what believers really want to know is, “Can I get away with a drink now and then once I have committed my life to Christ?”
This is to me a most interesting observation. It suggests quite strongly that the asker is more interested in how near they can get to a disputable matter rather that in how far away they can get from it.
An apparent contradiction in logic also puzzles me. If we accept that what is really being asked is “Can I get away with a drink now and then once I have committed my life to Christ?” then it seems to me we are asking “Can I still be lord of my own life once I have committed its Lordship to Christ?” This thinking is illogical. I may as well be asking “Can I go West while I am still going East?”
Mind you, I am not saying that consuming alcohol is a sin. I cannot boldly argue that from scripture. The clear Biblical teaching in both Old and New Testaments is that drunkenness is the sin. Drinking in moderation may be allowed but the true and tempered heart of a believer will curtail his or her privileges when it in the best interest of a fellow believer to do so.
At times I enjoy a good slather of peanut butter on a tortilla rolled up round a banana, but in the presence of one at risk of anaphylactic shock I will defer myself of this pleasure.
“Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister,” writes Paul. “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall….whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.” (Rom. 14:13, 21-22). And “Be careful… that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Cor. 8:9)*
You see, the real question is not whether or not the occasional drink is permissible, but whether or not the believer has fully surrendered to Christ. When one has, no other questions matter.
“Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Phil. 4:5 – KJV).
*Read the full passages: 1 Cor. 8:1-13; Rom. 14:13-23.
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