I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 1 Corinthians 9:22 ESV
Those who know me well know I’m gradually coming to grips with two conflicting elements. First is my growing passion to introduce people to the Lord Jesus. I’ve spent my entire life around churched people and I really want to get to know people who haven’t been to church, who don’t know Jesus and who haven’t experienced the awesome life change He brings. Secondly, I was raised in a church environment where alcohol was considered a sin (or at least very close to it). Hence, aside from having a few glasses of wine, I have been pretty much a teetotaler. And of course, those from my background are adamantly opposed to all things alcoholic.
As a pastor, I have to admit two things. First, the Biblical “case” against alcohol is non-existent. In fact, sound exegesis indicates wine is generally used positively in Scripture. Jesus even created it. On the practical side though I have to admit I’ve encountered more problems with alcohol in ministry than blessings. It has split marriages, led to abuse, caused others to stumble. My family suffers from the effects of an alcoholic. Many of the people I pastor have suffered from it. From a practical standpoint, I don’t see much positive with it. However, from the bigger practical picture, every person I know drinks. When I go to the farmer’s market at the local boardwalk there seem to be more wine tasting tents than tomatoes. More local beers than beets. It’s really convinced me that if we want to bring the unchurched to our services to be exposed to the glories of the gospel we should have a wine tasting. While I’m 90% there, this is a big step for me.
What’s the point? Simply this. Our love to bring people to Christ will cause us to rethink everything. We will do everything in our power to remove as many stumbling blocks as possible to reach people with the gospel. It calls us to take hard steps, to make major life changes, to fly in the face of traditional beliefs. Jesus did these things. Of course, He drove people back to the Scriptures, and actually tightened a lot of beliefs (for all the “liberal” approaches he took, He tightened others…consider His teaching on divorce, lust, murder…). The main point is this: spiritual formation should lead us to change who we are in order to be more like Christ. This is just part of my change.
Post Script: For those of you adamantly opposed to all alcohol…realize this post is not about alcohol, it’s about doing whatever it takes to reach people with the gospel. Stand on your convictions, but ask yourself how you have changed to reach people. For those of you who laugh at me for finally seeing the light…what major changes have you had to make to be more like Christ and reach more people with the gospel? There are opportunities for all of us to grow, and this post is merely intended to facilitate that conversation. Share your thoughts! Respectfully 🙂