In my last post, The Silence of Scripture or Freedom in Christ?, I took aim at the view that the silence of scripture is prohibitive in an effort to promote the freedom all believers have in Christ. One of the reasons for doing so is that I believe legalism can and eventually will paralyze Christians and churches from participating in the mission of God. In this post I want to offer an illustration from my own experience in hopes of promoting the use of our freedom in Christ to be better participants in God’s mission.
A couple years ago while helping a friend establish new house churches in Denver Metro area, my friend and I were invited to a “wine and cheese tasting party”. So we went and there we were sampling wine and cheese while engaging in a conversation with others about Jesus. Out of that evening, a new house church emerged and several people from that party started attending and learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ. A couple months prior to that party, my landlord was baptized into Jesus Christ. He had been a part of a house church for about a year and throughout that year, he and I had the opportunity to have a couple of conversations about God and faith over a glass of beer at a nearby brewery. He invited me and I accepted.
Ten years ago, I would not have accepted either invitation. I would not have gone into any bar (there are still some bars I won’t enter but that’s for other reasons) or attended a party where alcohol was being served, much less taken even a sip of alcohol. Why? Growing up, I was taught that it was wrong for Christians to have one sip of alcohol. Between the prohibition against drunkness (cf. Gal 5.21) which I do believe is sinful and the proof-text based on the KJV admonition to “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (cf. 1 Thess 5.22), a rule was made against consuming any alcohol…teetotalism.
Even though I did not agree with the teetotalism view, I still was more fearful of what sort of judgment I would incur from my fellow Christians for doing what was considered taboo and sinful. But as time went on, I became more confident in my being “made alive with Christ” which allowed me to no longer worry about how others might judge me as to what I “eat or drink” (cf. Col 2.13, 16). So now if going to have a beer with someone or attending a wine and cheese party is a way to engage people with the gospel of Jesus Christ…then by all means!*
Freedom in Christ opens the doors for participating in God’s mission!
* I do want to promote responsible discernment and remind any reader that if you have any problem with alcohol – addiction, drunkenness, violence, etc… – then ABSTAIN COMPLETELY rather than do harm to yourself and/or others and sinning.