A Christian's Relationship to the World - Follow-Up
This past Sunday night ("Super Bowl" Sunday), we met for our evening service and tackled the tough topic, "A Christian's Relationship to the World." Attendance was great, and I hope that those who came had as much fun as I did talking about this difficult issue. It was a great way to start "Super Bowl" evening, and then go enjoy the game (for many of us).
I wanted to follow up with some summary and closing thoughts based on our discussion. My original teaching notes can be found here. Please remember that my teaching notes may appear vague to you because, although I know what I want to say when I write something in my notes, the specifics may be missing, so please keep that in mind if you read them. I encourage you to look at my notes if for no other reason than to see the list of biblical texts we mentioned in our discussion.
The main point I wanted to follow up on is related to the subjects of alcohol, food, recreation, and work. I made the case that the abuse of any of these can potentially be destructive to our lives, but I want to specifically address the consumption of alcohol, and add that in our time and culture, alcohol, though often treated in the Bible as a blessing, can be especially destructive, because of alcohol related deaths due to drunk driving (not to mention the damage that substance abuse of any kind can wreak on families). This alone puts it in a "higher threat" tier than food, recreation, or other "pleasures" this world has to offer.
I want to first of all commend you for the grace and openness with which you listened to my comments on this topic. The belief that it is impossible for a Christian to consume any alcohol whatsoever without sinning is something I am fully aware that many believers hold. Scripture contains numerous warnings against the danger of "strong drink," and I don't want to minimize those warnings. Still, I want to caution us all against passing sinful judgments on those who partake of alcoholic beverages in moderation and to the glory of God (contrary to those who might believe otherwise, this is actually biblically possible, and numerous texts in Scripture affirm that). Even so, we must approach all of the pleasures of creation cautiously in light of sin's influence and power in the lives of fallen humans.
Alcohol can impair our mental faculties, reducing our ability to make sound judgments, and it can certainly affect our ability to drive, putting others at risk. This is something the biblical writers would have been unable to speak to, so we need to take that practical aspect of alcohol consumption in our modern times into consideration. Alcoholism (or simply bad judgments made under the influence of alcohol) has ruined many lives. This cannot be understated. Yet, we still must be willing to submit to Scripture's portrayal of alcohol as both a blessing and a potential danger if misused. A close survey of Scripture reveals 40 negative references to alcohol in the Bible, 62 neutral references, but 145 positive, for a total of 247 references to alcohol in the Bible, 59% of which are positive! Wow! This is certainly something for us to consider.
In addition, many of you made some very helpful observations related to our topic of the Christian's relationship to the world, including:
- Yes, we should enjoy all things in moderation, but always be aware of the subtle deception of the enemy that entices us to indulge in more than we should.
- We should guard our Christian witness/testimony against any potential damage that we may do through our enjoyment of the (not sinful) pleasures of this world.
- We should be aware of the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ, so as not to tempt them to sin by our freedom.
I hope this follow-up helps, and I pray that each of us enjoys God's good creation to the extent that our freedom in Christ allows, without judging others who may do things a little differently, and all to the glory of God and the good of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Your servant in Christ,