Dangerous Trends – Part 2

Sunday, April 7, 2019

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.  Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” (Romans 14:13 NIV)

My dad was invited to one office party in Manhattan as part of his job at Westinghouse.  He took his first social drink there, and it turned out to be the first of thousands of compulsive drinks over the next twenty-two years.

It started with weekend binges when I was only twelve years old.  But other changes soon followed.  My mother started crying a lot, and I noticed the beatings he gave me came with an intense fury.  Soon my dad graduated to drinking every day and night.  Eventually it cost him his well-paying job.  My mother was advised by her family to leave him, since our home had turned violent.  But she hung in there because she feared he would end up in the gutter.

During my teen years, I could never bring friends over to the house, because I never knew what condition my dad would be in.  Alcohol made him nasty, violent, and profane in his speech.  This was the same father, mind you, who took me to church when I was a child.   Only a few close friends knew our secret heartache.  My mother endured physical abuse, and I escaped the reality by playing basketball anywhere I could.

My father’s behavior affected me in painful ways even as an adult.  While I was saying my wedding vows to Carol, my dad was lying drunk somewhere.  He did not attend our wedding.

That’s what I always think about when I hear people flaunting their so-called “freedom in Christ” or their enlightened view of twenty-first century ethics.  One drink at one party did my dad in.  And I don’t know what weakness lies resident in me.  That’s why I forgo anything with alcohol content.  Not because wine with a meal is wrong, but rather who knows where that drink might lead me?  Or someone who watches me drink it?

Can’t we all, regardless of our differing views on what’s “lawful,” put other people’s welfare first? …  Who will God hold responsible for the stumbling blocks put before others for whom Christ died?  Are we so narcissistic that we refuse to accept God’s clear instruction? … Can’t we give up anything for the greater good of mutual edification?  “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).  Are these potentially dangerous drinks being consumed for the glory of God?  And what about the new convert to Christ who was delivered from a life of partying and excessive drinking?  Should anything and anybody connected to Jesus provide the temptation back into that lifestyle?

Certainly this new permissiveness toward hard alcohol is a sign that the sensitivity the Holy Spirit produces is on the wane.  Why dabble in anything if it can harm others or us so easily?  I believe that within two years there will be marijuana joints being smoked at church youth activities.  With marijuana already “legal” now in some states, I expect that America overall will approve its use, and many in the church will follow suit.  They will justify it by saying, “Don’t judge me, I haven’t broken any laws” or “Praise God, I am not a legalist like these other folks.”

Oh God, send the Holy Spirit upon us in a new way so that we can see things not as we want to, but as they really are!

-Pastor Cymbala (excerpted and adapted from Strong through the Storm)

Read Romans 14:13-21.

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