Maybe you have heard the saying from the early church, “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity” I had to remind myself of this often during the past week. At Cornerstone we tackled a topic that can be a little controversial and even divisive within the church. It’s one that need to be discussed with love. When we talk about secondary issues, we must be careful to keep the focus on Christ. So with that in mind, we tried to present the Biblical evidence for and against drinking and challenge people to develop their own convictions based on the Bible and their conscience.
My goal was to make everyone think. Drinking alcohol is not a black and white issue, but it is one that takes discernment. In Andy Stanley’s book, The Best Question Ever, he asks the question “In light of my past experiences, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, is this a wise decision” That question forces us to think about what we should do, not just what we can do. With that in mind, here are some things to think about.
Before you drink, you need to …
- Examine Your Motives: Do you drink for comfort, to escape your problems, or do you drink for courage or confidence, or do you drink for happiness. Alcohol is just a cheap imitation of what the Holy Spirit can do in your life.
- Think Through the Consequences
- Think about the Cost to Society (here is a great article by the Methodist Church)
- Realize that many struggle with addiction
- Think about your example and witness to others
- Realize there are higher standards for leaders
- Examine Your Conscience
What is My Personal Opinion: For me, my conscience tells me it is not right for me to drink alcohol. I feel that I would be committing a sin because I would be going against what God has put on my heart. Why? My example to the teenagers in the church, my example to my own children, my example to this community, and my example to the people who are suffering through addictions in our church. I am frustrated by the pastors who flippantly boast about their freedom to drink alcohol. I take Luke 17:1-3 and Romans 14:23 very seriously.
My Challenge to You: Don’t make a decision without seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit
- If you decide to drink, remember to use caution and discernment. Don’t be a stumbling block to others. Remember, ask yourself should you drink
- If you decide to not drink, don’t get puffed up with pride and look down on those who have an occasional drink
Here is the video of the entire message. I have also included my outline and sermon notes on the Cornerstone website under the You Asked For It Series.
How do you feel about Jesus drinking alcohol?
If you can conclude from the New Testament that drinking is not a sin, then I see no reason to say that Jesus didn’t drink small amounts of wine. I think Luke 7:34 would support this. Wine was commonly mixed with water, so I think that was just part of the culture they were in. But I do think we have to remember that the wine was very different from what we have today.
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You say – Realize there are higher standards for leaders.
Is the standard higher than that which the Bible lays out? Neither elders nor deacons are commanded to total abstinence from alcohol. Also, Stephen asks a good question above.
Also, do you teach your children it is implicitly wrong to drink alcohol or do you explain that may be so based on one’s individual convictions?
No flippancy here, just curiosity.
Good questions – I answer all of them in the longer sermon. We hold our ministry leaders to the standard in 1 Timothy 3:8. But they should also establish their own personal convictions. We have a very high number of people who are struggling with past and current addictions in our church, so we do have to be careful about setting an example for them. I do think you have to take into account the cultural differences between 1st century Israel and today. I have a hard time thinking that the disciples and Jesus would drink in today’s culture, but that is just my personal opinion.
For me personally, I don’t drink based on my personal convictions. Romans 14:23 NLT says “But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” That’s pretty clear, and I wish more Christians would spend time developing their convictions.
As for my children, they are just now getting to the age where we can start discussing alcohol. My oldest is in middle school so she is just now being exposed to friends who drink. I won’t teach them that it is explicitly wrong, but I will teach them the dangerous consequences. I want to teach them how to make wise decisions, not decisions based on conforming to the society we live in.
last few days our class held a similar talk on this topic and you illustrate something we haven’t covered yet, appreciate that.