Friday, March 18, 2005

Jesus and Drinking

My message on Sunday to the students deals with Jesus’ servant attitude and how we must put others before ourselves like Jesus did. The passage is the Wedding in Cana (John 2) where Jesus does his first miracle by turning water into wine. This passage has become a topic of discussion not because Jesus performed a miracle, but rather because Jesus seems to be okay with drinking.

Many Christians as well as non-Christians point to this passage to find approval for drinking. While it is true that Jesus did drink wine, as did most people of that day. Their have been several attempts to legitimize this passage; one being that some saying the wine was not as strong as today. I am not sure that there is a way to prove the alcohol content back in Jesus’ day. This argument seems to fall flat. Other arguments that are extra-biblical seem to also fall flat. The answer, I believe, is found in the scriptures.

When trying to interpret the Bible, the rule of thumb is that any unclear passage is always interpreted by clear passages. With this in mind I looked into other passage dealing with drinking. The Bible frequently refers to being drunk as a sin. (Romans 13:13) The scriptures never show that Jesus was drunk or endorsed heavy drinking. The wine that Jesus drank was always with dinner and appeared to be enough to satisfy thirst.

So does this mean it is okay for Christians to drink? A couple rules apply before I answer that question. Being drunk is a sin and should never be allowed in a Christian’s life, also we must obey any laws in place about drinking (i.e. legal drinking age being 21) I believe it is up to each individual Christians to decide for himself. My wife and I have chosen not to drink at all even casually. The reason lies in one more scripture that we have not discussed. Paul examines the issue of eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 10.

You say, "I am allowed to do anything"--but not everything is helpful. You say, "I am allowed to do anything"--but not everything is beneficial. Don't think only of your own good. Think of other Christians and what is best for them. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

If someone who isn't a Christian asks you home for dinner, go ahead; accept the invitation if you want to. Eat whatever is offered to you and don't ask any questions about it. Your conscience should not be bothered by this. But suppose someone warns you that this meat has been offered to an idol. Don't eat it, out of consideration for the conscience of the one who told you. It might not be a matter of conscience for you, but it is for the other person. Now, why should my freedom be limited by what someone else thinks? If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it? Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:27-31

Paul answers the problem by saying that even though you are allowed to eat the meat that has been sacrificed to idols you shouldn’t if it will cause another person to stumble. I never want to be the reason that some other Christians decide to drink. I want to be an example of godliness. I believe that it is wrong for a Christian in our society to drink, because it would cause himself or others to grow further from Christ. Our goal as Christians is not to drink, but rather to grow closer to Christ everyday and drinking is not a part of that growth.

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