This past Sunday, I sat in one of the more intense business meetings that our church has encountered since we’ve been here. I am grateful that God has blessed us in such a way that this was actually a rare occurrence. There were no ugly words thrown around and no fights broke out (thankfully) but it was clear that emotions ran strong in this area. The topic on the table was voting to change the wording in our church covenant; something that the leadership had been laboring over for more than eight years. The current covenant contained a sentence stating that all members agreed to obstain from the sale and the use of intoxicating beverages. Watch Passengers (2016)
As Scott was interviewing with the church 9 years ago, he made it clear that he was unable to sign this covenant because he was currently employed by a grocery store and one of the departments recently placed under his management was the liquor department. As he shared early on, this was something that needed to change. We either needed to do away with such a covenant or change the wording in the covenant to line up with what the Word of God truly says so that we can begin to take seriously what we, as a church, have covenanted (promised) to live out with one another. The new proposed covenant had almost a full page of scripture added, as well as the removal of the sentence pertaining to intoxicated beverages.
As I listened to the impassioned arguments made against making this change, I couldn’t help but hurt for some of the dear souls that sat in the room that day who had survived years of what must have seemed like Hell on earth as they lived with an alcoholic mama or daddy. I fully admit that I cannot fathom the unspeakable heartache that must have been endured by my precious brothers and sisters during that time. The imprint that has been pressed upon their tender hearts by this sin is painful and is not easily forgotten.
The Bible is clear that drunkenness is a sin and that sin leads to deathâ€¦death in individuals, death in families and death in societies.
However, because of the massive destruction brought about by the abuse of alcohol, we Christians are sometimes easily convinced to place a requirement upon ourselves and upon other believers to abstain from alcohol altogether, labeling even a drink of it as a sin.
As with so many other areas in our lives, we must be careful of the danger of viewing truth through the lenses of our own experiences. We live in a messed up world where everything good, beautiful and pure has been warped and defiled by those who do not know or love our Savior. Yet, we do more harm than good when we see the failings of unbelievers and create legalistic bindings based upon our own human reasoning, rather than upon the flawless Word of God.
We see throughout the Old Testament that wine was repeatedly spoken of as a sign of prosperity and blessing upon the people of God (Genesis 27:28, Deuteronomy 14:26, Psalm 104:15), yet we also see a stern warning in Proverbs about the dangers of drunkenness (Proverbs 20:1 and Proverbs 23).
We all know that Jesusâ€™ first miracle was turning the water into wine in John 2. This was clearly alcoholic as we read the words spoken by the master of the wedding feast to the bridegroom: â€œEveryone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.â€ It is obvious that the â€œgood wineâ€ being served first indicates that â€œwhen the people have drunk freelyâ€, they would have become at ease from the effects of alcohol and would have welcomed the â€œpoor wineâ€ during the latter part of the feast. We also read Paul’s words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:8 regarding the life of a deacon. Paul says that he is not to be indulging in or addicted to “much wine”. Again, this is clearly speaking of alcohol, unless grape juice has some unforeseen danger when consumed excessively.
If we wish to remain true to the Word of God, we cannot deny that alcohol was allowed, and even encouraged in some passages of scripture.
Does this mean that Christians are commanded to drink alcohol? Absolutely not, but we are free to do so in moderation if we so choose.
This DOES mean that we have no right to place a standard upon our brother or sister that God has not placed upon us. Romans 14 speaks well of this.
Personally, I have no desire to drink. I have seen the devastation that drunkenness brings all around me. I know of one mama who has buried her husband and now all of her children due to drug and alcohol related deaths. As I mentioned earlier, there are some who are very dear to me in our church family that could easily struggle or become hurt by my decision to drink alcohol. There are also those with past (or possible future) addictions that I could cause to stumble. I am free to drink alcohol yet it is my choice to decline that freedom for the few days God has given me upon this earth.
This is my personal conviction and I could not, should not and will not place this conviction upon the shoulders of my brothers and sisters.
If it pleases God to do so, He will allow me to enjoy wine throughoutÂ eternity, along with all of the other spectacular pleasures of being in His amazing presence, where there will be no more drunkenness, no heartache and no sin.
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