When Scriptures Offend

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on Facebook lately about Christians and drinking.  What I’m going to say may offend you.  Fair warning.

The position I see most states that Christians simply shouldn’t drink.  It’s a bad witness for those who do drink who don’t know the Lord.  It’s a bad influence on children.  It’s simply bad, bad, bad.

I disagree.

Jesus performed his very first miracle at a wedding.  He turned water into wine.  And it wasn’t just “two-buck Chuck”, either.  It was the good stuff; they even said so.

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” – John 2:9

Why in the world would he do that if he didn’t want people drinking?  The guests and wedding party drank to toast the new couple and celebrate their union.  If the fermented fruit of the vine caused terrible things, why did He make more?  Shouldn’t He have said, “Ah, just drink water.  It’s better for you anyway.  You’ll stay hydrated!”  But he didn’t.  He helped make the wedding better with the wine.

The mention of wine permeates scripture.  Yes, Proverbs holds several warnings for drinking too much.  But the majority of wine references turn up favorable.

Then Isaac said, “Now, my son, bring me the wild game. Let me eat it, and then I will give you my blessing.” So Jacob took the food to his father, and Isaac ate it. He also drank the wine that Jacob served him. – Genesis 27:25

Jacob set up a stone pillar to mark the place where God had spoken to him. Then he poured wine over it as an offering to God and anointed the pillar with olive oil. – Genesis 35:13-15

Abigail wasted no time. She quickly gathered 200 loaves of bread, two wineskins full of wine, five sheep that had been slaughtered, nearly a bushel of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 fig cakes. She packed them on donkeys. – I Samuel 25:17-19

“The time will come,” says the Lord, “when the grain and grapes will grow faster than they can be harvested. Then the terraced vineyards on the hills of Israel will drip with sweet wine!” – Amos 9:13

In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” – I Corinthians 11:25

Don’t drink only water. You ought to drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach because you are sick so often. – I Timothy 5:23

We spend so much time looking at this particular speck of drinking and no time talking about the things Jesus really hates – gluttony, lying, envy.  America has some of the fattest people on the planet.  The church must hold the record in obesity percentages.  Yet we never speak of it.  We ask Jesus to “melt the fat off”, to “cast our excess weight far from us, Hallelujah!” We have no intention of taking responsibility for how much goes into our mouths.  Another church potluck!  We’re having fellowship around a meal.  It’s great!  Jesus did it.  One caveat remains.  However…It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. Romans 14:21.  This scripture is in the context of making fellow *believers* stumble, not those who don’t share your faith.

Eating together is Biblical.  Jesus and his disciples did it on numerous occasions.  However, it wasn’t a time to gorge themselves.  It became a time to grow closer, a time of trust and rest.  “Well…(patting stomach dreamily)…I’ve eaten my weight.  Time to get horizontal!  See ya, Peter.  Gonna catch 40 winks.”  No.

It all comes back to the heart.  Why are we drinking?  Why are we eating?  Our hearts tell on us in ways our tongues never will.  Our bodies testify to our stewardship.  I don’t condone alcoholism or regular drunkenness.  Get help if you need it.  But please, remember that your sin of lust, couched as gluttony, displeases Jesus just as much.  Food sustains the body.  It’s not a panacea.  Wine and alcoholic beverages can be used in moderation but not to drown sorrows or escape reality.

I totally understand folks who want to leave the issue of alcoholic beverages alone.  It’s certainly not an issue to keep anyone out of heaven.  But I encourage you to look into this for yourself.  If you’re a believer interested in maturing, ask the Lord about it.  Search the scriptures.  You need to learn to walk in the Spirit and hear the leading of God for yourself.

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