It was that awkward moment when you’ve been around someone long enough to know that they are different than most, but you’re not quite sure why. So, since I felt fairly comfortable and connected to this person, and they knew I was a follower of Christ, I just came right down to it and asked: “Are you a Christian?”
“No, I’m a Lutheran.”
I thought it was an odd response. So, I simply let it be what it was: “Alright… Cool.”
“Why? Do you have a problem with drinking?” He instantly asked next.
This was the beginning of a somewhat in-depth conversation. I asked the initial question; he gave the responses and then steered the conversation. I found it curious: Why did this person move directly to a question and discussion about alcohol?
Team Unity of Jesus Followers
If we worship Jesus Christ, we are on the same team. Depending on the position you play on a sports team, your personal strategy may be a little different than your teammate’s. Take soccer for instance: Defenders have different strengths, objectives, and focus points than offensive players. Nonetheless, the entire team moves towards the same goal.
So, while we are all on the same team, we may have some individual Christian lifestyle differences. As long as a few basic core beliefs are in place, then the Jesus follower is moving in the same direction as the rest of the team. Unity in essentials and grace in non-essentials has become a popular phrase to communicate this idea.
In the book of Acts, there’s an account about church leaders needing to decide what the new Jesus followers must live like in order to be considered a true Jesus follower. After some debate, and after a mention that everyone who trusts in Jesus is saved by His undeserved grace, the church leaders come to a conclusion:
“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.”
While these requirements had cultural reasons attached, and while these requirements may be different today in our culture, the point is this: when it came to a Christian lifestyle, there are few things that must be observed, but many things that may be observed.
When someone asks about Christianity, the next response shouldn’t be centered on drinking or any other sort of social activity. I don’t know why this person reverted to this follow-up question in our conversation. Maybe they had been judged one too many times by people who adamantly shout that drinking is a sin. I’m not sure….
The Bottom Line: Care for Others More Than Ourselves
In our conversation, this person realized that drinking in moderation is permissible, but getting drunk is a sin. Turns out, this person enjoys a couple beers once or twice a month. This individual had a sibling who is a raging drunk. This has left a sour taste in this person’s mouth; my acquaintance wholeheartedly disapproves of that type of drunken lifestyle. If everyone consumed beers or alcohol as this individual does: a couple at a time, once or twice a month, the problem of alcoholism in our culture would start to diminish.
Nonetheless, do not allow your permissible freedoms to lead someone else into breaking their own conscience. While something is permissible, it does not necessarily make it beneficial.
You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – but not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.
1 Corinthians 10:23-24