Thursday, November 10, 2011

raise your glass

An explanation of why I never, rarely, sometimes consume alcohol. That has been my thought process, which is why this blog post is long overdue. I think one of the most controversial questions amongst Christians is…”is it wrong to drink?” And for a long time I used to think that there was a right and wrong answer – yes or no. I often errored with the side of yes. But as I grow up and make my faith my own, I am realizing that things aren’t always so black and white. Allow me to explain…

I used to never drink alcohol. Before I was 21 it was illegal and therefore, clearly, wrong. But even on my 21st birthday I never consumed a drop of alcohol. My friends and I had enough fun without the aid of alcohol. Plus, I went to a conservative Christian college where drinking was punished with a heavy fine and hours of community service. I am not an intentional rule breaker. More than the fear of getting in trouble, I felt a moral obligation not to drink. I was secure on my stance and would quickly offer my reasons to anyone who inquired…

1. The thing I feared most was that my friends would see me drinking and use it to justify drunkenness (which leads to a world of other sins). This is why I was super careful not to ever let a picture of me with a drink or a red cup (even if it only contained soda) to appear on Facebook. I never wanted anyone to be able to use the phrase, “Well Miranda drinks and she is a Christian so it must be ok.” I also never wanted to cause anyone to stumble – Romans 14:20.

2. I saw the ill effects of alcohol within my extended family so I never truly had a desire to drink. The alcohol I saw growing up was never “fun” or “cool.”

3. “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” via 1 Corinthians 10:23. I didn’t see the benefits of drinking, even if it was legal. I thought it was a waste of money and calories. And I still think most beer tastes like piss.

It wasn’t until this year that I had a paradigm shift (my former English teachers would be so proud that I just used that in a sentence, unless I used it incorrectly). The controversial question triggered me to question my role as a Christian. How do I adapt to life as a Christian in the real world, outside the bubble of my Christian campus where I had been coddled 24/7 with an insane amount of structure, love, and truth? I sent a novel sized e-mail to one of my BFFs, Jess, with all of my thoughts, feelings, and questions. She promptly returned my e-mail with challenging advice and her opinions, which she had gathered from reading Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz.

It was certainly at that moment that I realized I didn’t want to be known as a Christian for what I didn’t do – drink, curse, sleep around, etc. Because I wanted to be known for what I did do – love, encourage, forgive, etc. I wanted people to know I was a Christian, not because I wouldn’t go have a drink with them on Friday night, but because I loved them unconditionally. Does that make sense?

I love this Donald Miller quote from Blue Like Jazz…

“I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.”

My life is my testimony and I hope that my love and passion for Christ makes it easier for others to love and follow Him too.

So, yes, on occasion I can be found sipping a (a as in one) captain & coke. And at special events, or sometimes after a long night at work, I enjoy a glass of wine. But I don’t think that’s wrong. I am secure enough in my own faith to know how to recognize the devil’s schemes. I think Beth Moore summed it up best in her devo Looking Up when she says, “Though he (the devil) tailors the specifics to fit individual weaknesses, I believe Satan’s basic progressive plan remains consistent: distraction->addiction->destruction.” The devil is always looking to destroy you, that is true for everything in your life, not just drinking. Stand up for what you believe in, know your temptations, and live a life of love.

“Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator.” – Ecclesiastes 12:1

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