Dangerous Trends – Part 1
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18 NIV)
When the Holy Spirit is not leading and controlling believers’ lives, some very dangerous trends are sure to develop. At the top of the list must certainly be the current acceptance and even flaunting of social drinking among professing Christians. I’m not talking about the wine with a meal question—that is a personal choice to be made in your own home. I’m referring to the increased use of alcohol—especially hard alcohol—at Christian social events. Consider the following events that have recently been brought to my attention.
A renowned worship leader and composer recently held a concert at which alcoholic drinks were served. One of our members attended and was stunned to see many in the audience holding their glass of beer or liquor while they swayed to the music.
A well-known “church brand’ includes an open bar during their baptismal services here in New York City.
A recent Christian men’s conference advertised a segment for beer tasting among the scheduled activities.
It seems as if there are no limits to the “I’m not under bondage” attitude of those who feel “victimized” by their more strict upbringings. Hard alcohol is more and more part of the social lives of professing Christians and now is making inroads into church-related events. Of course, it’s all embraced and justified by an appeal to a grace versus law, along with other anti-legalism arguments. But I sometimes wonder if it’s really more about the self-indulgence of people who have lost the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
We are all aware that some believers have turned off lots of people to Christianity and have given Jesus a bad name through their mean spiritual legalism. Religion to them is merely a list of do’s and don’ts—mostly don’ts! Emphasis on a spiritual relationship with Jesus and a life of love has somehow escaped them in their pursuit of “holiness.” But now the pendulum has swung the other way with a vengeance. The goal for many at this time seems to be pleasing self at all costs, no matter how potentially harmful a habit might be to oneself or as an example to others.
Some have mistakenly maintained that Jesus turned water into grape juice, yet the admonition to “do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery” (Ephesians 5:18) reveals the danger of even the common wine consumed in that era and culture.
But we are living in a drastically different day, aren’t we? Alcoholism moves across our nation like a deadly blight, harming men, women, teenagers, and worst of all, the fabric of families with small children. The cost to our economy is more than $200 billion, but the human pain and hopelessness associated with alcoholism can’t be put into words or statistics. More than 35 percent of all vehicle fatalities in our country are caused by drunk driving.
Some people have an inherent tendency toward the abuse of intoxicants such as liquor. Their first drink can prove to be the first step toward the pain and ruin caused by alcoholism. The road to ruin often begins with one drink—that’s all, just one drink. Should they be offered that first drink by a believer in Christ?
Many will argue that this is dinosaur-like thinking and not in tune with contemporary realities. Possibly I come across to some as judgmental or self-righteous as I write these warnings. If so, then let me tell you a bit of my story…
To be continued…
-Pastor Cymbala (excerpted from Strong through the Storm)
Read Ephesians 5:15-20.