These are some thoughts I had over the holidays. While the sentiment in this post is specific to Christmas, in reality, you can observe similar patterns throughout the year.
It is always a little discouraging to see how many people posted about “keep Christ in Christmas” and “Jesus is the light of the world” a week ago are now posting about their drunken debauchary because it is New Year’s Eve (-and more tomorrow on New Year’s Day -). Nevertheless, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Some would say that it doesn’t matter. Jesus drank, too, and hung out with a sorted type. (Matthew 11:19).
However, it is not the drinking or the hanging out with sorted types that is ultimately the fundamental premise or crux of the position – it is more a function of consistency. Do you lead a consistent life, are you a light for those that are still stuck in darkness? I know that saved folks still drink, but when they drink, is it in a socially responsible manner, or are people drinking for the sole reason to get drunk? I think there is a difference, and when we look to scripture, we also have to consider the context in which it was written. In biblical days, wine was safer to drink than the water. Oftentimes water was contaminated and really not safe to drink, and the alcohol in the wine killed the bacteria. Today, many of us are fortunate that we don’t have to boil our water before drinking for safety reasons, but that isn’t the case in all parts of the world.
Jesus drank, John (“the Baptist”) didn’t and they both won souls. And despite what we’ve tried to reconfigure it to be in more recent years, it was real alcohol and typically for social and religious purpose even back then.
By now, I hope you aren’t focused on drinking and alcohol. That is only the surface discussion. Look deeper. Substitute whatever else you want in place of “alcohol” and the context of this post will still stand. Maybe alcohol isn’t a vice that you struggle with, what about greed, idolotry, fornication, gossip, -fill-in-the-blank-. As people, we tend to focus on differentiating “SIN”, from “Sin”, from “sin”. Some sins are bigger than others, right?? Isn’t it odd that the sin that someone else struggles with is usually bigger than the sin that we struggle with personally?? Funny though, the Bible teaches that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). So maybe we shouldn’t focus on the categorization of “sin” in human terms and look to the definition from God’s perspective.
We can spend so much time trying to develop a laundry list of activities *we* think are “Christian” (or not as the case may be) that we forget that Jesus alone is more than enough. Again, here is an area in which people can get stuck. Since Jesus is enough, then I can still do whatever I want, because He has overcome the sin of the world. Sadly, those that believe this have missed one of the fundamental truths.
Although Christ Jesus is enough, our salvation should also be accompanied by a transformation, whether that transformation takes place at once or little by little over time. I personally cannot say whether or not someone has been saved – that is something between that someone and God alone. Churches shouldn’t be filled with only the saved folks, churches should be the hospitals where the lost can go and be redeemed. There is already so much hypocrisy in the world, I think that believers have a responsibility to make sure that their actions invite people to find the same Jesus that the believer knows, and not inadvertently become a stumbling block that non-believers trip over on the way to finding Christ for themselves. And salvation and Holy Ghost baptism do not translate to perfection. We are saved by grace through faith and contrary to what some might believe, we don’t live perfect lives thereafter, but should endeavor for each day to be better than the one before.
So what does it come down to? Again, I think we can return to the concept of consistency. I think more people would be drawn to Christ if we Christians would get consistent with each other – both individually and collectively. We get so caught up in wondering and worrying about what we think others think of what we’ve deemed to be sins. We run the risk of building ourselves up to being more important than we really are to others and unfortunately building our sins up likewise.
At the end of the day, we must come to terms with our own soul’s salvation. In the end; the love of God wins every time. But, the seeds WE SOW regarding OUR CHOICES will reap a harvest. Look to the future – if you can’t say that you would be pleased with the harvest, take the time now and change the seeds.