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Eating and Drinking…

April 11, 2007

“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 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! Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” Luke 7:33-35

Written so a generation of Christ followers could feel comfortable having a beer? I’m not really sure that is the best thing we can learn from this passage. Just for full disclosure I do have a beer on occasion, Leinenkugel’s Honey Wheat is my beer of choice for even fuller disclosure.

I spent many years lost drinking far too much alcohol so I appreciate the dangers of drinking, but this passage has taught me something very valuable about this topic that is typically approached very legalistically. You see in my experience it is typically used to show that Jesus drank and so if Jesus drank there is nothing wrong with me drinking. That is just legalism, looking for a legalistic reason for a behavior and I think the text has a much deeper message.

You see many years ago when I came out of my drinking and partying and surrendered my life to Christ I had to deal with the issue of alcohol. I committed to go one year without having a drink, not because I couldn’t or shouldn’t but because I had a problem with drinking. I became in many people’s eyes the classic tea totaling Christian.

So what do you do when you are trying to be salt and light in the world and people focus more on the fact that at corporate functions you don’t have a drink? It was frustrating so what do you do? Does having a drink make things better with coworkers? Does it make them more likely to look for Jesus?

I remember one man who couldn’t even imagine that I would hold a beer let alone have a drink, so I took a drink of his beer. He totally freaked out, seems he thought I had a demon, he started to smell my breath and assumed I hadn’t really had a drink. I told him that Christianity had nothing to do with drinking, got that one from Paul you know, and that if he ever wanted to talk about what it was really about I would love the opportunity.

I remember another occasion years earlier when I was still in college and working as a waiter. It was New Years Eve and I had to work. After the restaurant closed everyone was going to go to a local bar to celebrate the New Year. I was working at that time with a good friend who is also now in ministry and we wanted to be salt and light. We wanted to show those we worked what following Christ was really about.

So we went and had a glass of champagne compliments of the bar. As I said I had made a commitment not to drink and it had been awhile but what do you think everyone thought of me after I had one drink? Yes, because I was enjoying myself and socializing with everyone the word on the street was that I had gotten drunk. Now I new drunk and I wasn’t gone after a swallow of champagne, but it didn’t matter.

You see that to me is what the text teaches us. It doesn’t matter which way you go on the drinking issue people may either call you a drunk or a freak. They may either think you are a no fun Christian cook or a beer guzzling fool, they will think bad things either way.

For me a better question has become who are we called to emulate, John the Baptist or Jesus? If you drink people will think that means you are drunk. People will think it means you are just like them. If it happened to Jesus it will happen to you. What I find most interesting is no where do we find Jesus discussing this issue.

I want to end this by saying Jesus did what he did for a reason, the desire to see people redeemed, not to blend in or not cause problems or to do something for yourself under the legal protection of Jesus. It was eating and drinking with purpose and I think the church must be willing to give a more authentic image of what it really means to follow Jesus.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 11, 2007 7:39 pm

    Great post and blog.
    Your point is right on target and so should we.

  2. April 11, 2007 7:48 pm

    Preacherman, thanks for stopping in.

  3. April 11, 2007 7:53 pm

    While I am not a drinker, I appreciate your points.

    I don’t beleive we can go to any scripture though to justify a party lifestyle. Jesus turning water into wine(et. al.) just does not give us permission to be a drunk.

    It does however give us a glimpse into the social life of that culture and how Jesus interacted with it.

    A little wine for the stomach sake anyone?

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