My Sanctified Addiction

lightstock_178215_download_medium_steven_smith_

We’re only a couple of weeks into it but the new year is not off to a great start.
It could be worse of course, but it could also be better. The problem with the new year is that it follows Christmas. We’re pressured to make resolutions right after a time of uninhibited gluttony and drunkenness. Which begs the question. Why must the season of excess be immediately followed by a time of gut-wrenching restraint?

I had almost gotten my coke addiction under wraps. But then Christmas came along bringing its annual barrage of stress. I can’t drink beer anymore. Wine is out of the picture. Liquor and I never did mix well, no pun intended. Some would say that I could drink beer or liquor if I wanted too because we’re not under law but under grace. My current attitude to alcohol is best summed up in a quote by William Shakespeare: “Oh thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou has no name to be known by, let us call thee devil.”

The truth is, I have no desire to drink the stuff. I never did like the taste of it. The taste of coke or pepsi is another matter entirely. I actually read somewhere that this drink was originally concocted by a doctor. Such a discovery gave me hope that perhaps the drink is not as unhealthy as we are sometimes led to believe. I could wish it were the healthiest drink on earth. It would be better for my conscience and also my stomach. But alas I fear that some of the scientific studies are correct.

Can I then judge smokers? What is the sin with tobacco smoking? A. It’s unhealthy. B. It’s addicting. The trouble I’m having is that those two criteria can probably be applied to my favourite carbonated soda. Ouch. A case could be made as to the difference in degrees. Yes, coke is unhealthy but probably not nearly as unhealthy as smoking. Yes, people get addicted to coke but don’t they also get addicted to food in general. I absolutely refuse to give up food. I simply will not do it. I know people who have and it didn’t end well for them. I can’t believe it’s possible to be addicted to salads. Must I restrict my diet to food that is green and leafy and tasteless? As Job said, “Can flavourless food be eaten without salt, or is there any taste in the white of an egg?” (Job 6:6) Thanks Job. Now I’m craving bacon.

My problem is that I carry two labels that constantly tempt me toward perfectionism. Firstly, I am a Christian. Secondly, I am a pastor. Should I not then have victory, even over the slightest of temptations? Shouldn’t I be praying instead of watching the hockey game while sipping on a cold glass of coke and munching on a bag of chips? Should a man who preaches God’s Word every Sunday indulge in a second bowl of ice cream or spend his hard earned money on a chocolate bar? The money for the chocolate bar could have been given to the poor. It almost sounds like something Judas would say doesn’t it? Many people in the  world don’t have the bare necessities much less a chocolate chip cookie and a pound of bacon.

Perhaps I am dodging the issue. The real problem is sugar. I love it. I can scarcely get enough of it. I consider it my sanctified addiction. I’m not yet to the point where I stash sugary treats away in hidden corners of the house. There’s really no need for that. My wife likes it too, which is a great relief. She can appreciate the thrill of a sugar rush. I probably won’t start carrying around a bottle of coke in a brown paper bag stuffed inside my jacket. I trust it won’t come to that.

I’m not sure it matters much in terms of my Christian witness. John the Baptist fasted frequently and barely ate enough to keep a bird alive and people thought he was demon possessed. Jesus ate and drank freely and they called Him a glutton and a winebibber. Therein lies one of the many paradoxes of being a Christian. It matters greatly what you say and do and yet it doesn’t matter at all. What really matters is what Jesus said and did.

A couple of paragraphs ago I said that the real problem was sugar. I now relent. Sugar is not the problem. The real problem is sin. Hence, I give myself permission to quit focussing on minor issues. How’s that for a New Year’s resolution? If I was addicted to frequent outbursts of wrath that frightened my wife and freaked out my kid then I’d have something to worry about. But an affinity for sweets? Nah. I’m not sure it’s even worth the mental energy required to overcome it.

But I could be wrong. It doesn’t happen often but I must allow for the possibility. Of course, the only One who was never wrong was Jesus. Which brings me to the long awaited summary. Sin is the problem and Jesus is the answer. There’s the gospel in a chocolate covered nutshell. In the new year I intend to focus more on spreading it, like raspberry jam on a slice of toast. Will I follow through? I hope so. We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, I feel a craving coming on. I have only two choices. Deny it or satisfy it? Hmmm.

Advertisements

5 Benefits of Social Drinking for Christians

freestock_437861701
They say confession is good for the soul. Therefore, I have one to make right now. I do not drink alcohol. Neither socially nor anti-socially. Nor drunkenly. Nor in any other way. Nevertheless, I cannot deny the obvious benefits to social drinking. They are “plastered” all across the minds of thoughtful people like myself. For the present discussion I will list five of these benefits, though I admit there are possibly several others.

1. You get to be social.
The very phrase “social drinking” indicates that drinking socially means you’re being social. That’s why it’s called “social” drinking. The implication is that if you’re not drinking alcohol you’re some kind of anti-social weirdo. Everybody knows this, even if it’s not widely discussed.

Dictionary.com defines social as “seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious.” I mean, who doesn’t want to be gregarious? And how can you be gregarious while chugging spring water? Or even coca-cola? You cannot properly enjoy the company of others who drink unless you yourself are also drinking a similar type of alcoholic beverage.

2. You get to drink.
Beer commercials tell us that everybody really wants to drink alcohol, especially beer. More specifically they want to drink that particular brand of beer currently being advertised. Social drinking gives you that opportunity to partake of a questionable activity that the bible does not specifically forbid. As an added benefit you get to drink a beverage that tastes really horrible, even worse than coffee.

3. You may accidentally get drunk.
Let’s face it, the ultimate goal of drinking is to get drunk, or at least to get a “buzz on,” which means you’re not completely sloshed but at least you’re feeling the effects of the booze. You feel slightly relaxed. Perhaps a bit light-headed. More comfortable talking to strangers. The buzz might even help you flirt more effectively with members of the opposite sex. This is really helpful for Christians and pastors who might otherwise feel inhibited in their desire to push the boundaries of marital fidelity.

Let’s face it. Some people are still prudish when it comes to adultery. They’re not really sure if they should commit it. Alcohol helps remove some of these hang-ups, at least temporality, before the guilt comes rushing in like a flood.

4. You may inspire others to drink.
There could be someone you know who is hesitant to take that first sip. But if they see you doing it they will be encouraged to do it themselves. This is a great way to get your kids started on the sauce. I highly recommend that you drink at home, in front of the kids. It’s much more difficult to inspire your kids to drink if they don’t actually see you doing it. So no more closet drinking. It’s time to come out. Get it out in the open. Drink at the dinner table if you have too. Start with a little wine. Then some beer. Before you know it the entire family will be lining up for liquor and doing shots together at the basement bar.

5. You could lead someone to become an alcoholic.
Studies show that every alcoholic started with just one drink, namely their first one. That first one led to a second and then a third and so on. But nobody becomes an alcoholic overnight. They have to start somewhere. And just think, you can have the privilege of being the one to get them started down a road of self-destruction, where they could eventually lose their jobs, their families, their sanity, possibly their lives and eventually their very souls.

So don’t put if off any longer. Become a “sipping saint.” Start today. And stay tuned for my upcoming post on the benefits of sexual immorality.

Photo Credit: <a href=”http://www.freestock.com/free-photos/multiethnic-millenial-group-friends-partying-enjoying-437861701″>Image used under license from Freestock.com</a>

6 Reasons Why People Should Drink

DSCN3230

Despite all evidence to the contrary some people continue to insist that there’s something wrong with the consumption of alcohol. For that reason I decided it was high time to show forth some of the benefits of drinking. I managed to come up with six reasons why people should drink but I’m sure there are many others.

1. It’s an easy way of escape from the harsh realities of life.
Prayer is hard work. Bible study requires effort. Going to church often means climbing out of bed when you’d rather not leave the comfort of the sheets. Tipping a bottle or glass to your lips is not difficult. It’s virtually mindless. You barely have to think about what you’re doing. Just pour it, tip it and swallow it. It’s as easy as eating fruit from a tree. (See Genesis 3)

2. It’s expensive
At first glance this may seem to be a reason not to drink but consider the fact that “nothing good is free.” and “you get what you pay for.” The hefty price tag is surely proof of the inherent value of alcohol. If it were cheap we would have every reason to question its benefits. Cigarettes are not cheap either and who can deny the health benefits of repeatedly filling your lungs with smoke and chemicals? What doctor worth his or her salt has ever advised against smoking and drinking?

3. It’s culturally acceptable.
We all know God would never expect us to refrain from something when everybody else is doing it. When did God ever say that we should not be conformed to the patterns and standards of this world? (Romans 12:3 notwithstanding) Didn’t Jesus say that we should never deny ourselves anything that we really want? (see Luke 9:23) It’s pretty obvious that’s what Jesus meant, especially when you take His words completely out of context and twist them so that they are barely recognizable.

4. It’s safe.
The way some people rant and rave against drinking you’d almost think alcohol was a contributing factor to thousands of deaths every year. We need to remember that people who drink and drive are probably bad drivers anyway. They probably would have crashed the car and killed innocent people even if they were sober. Though it has the potential to cause disease, the fact is, you may get sick even if you don’t drink. Just as there’s more than one way to skin a cat, there’s more than one way to destroy a liver.

5. There are millions of alcoholics in the world.
Can millions of people be wrong? If alcohol were so bad why would so many people choose to keep drinking even if it means losing their own family? Why would so many people be addicted to it? Obviously, the sober amongst are missing out on something here?

6. It’s extremely powerful.
It carries the power to cause sorrow, grief and regret. It destroys lives and rips families apart. It makes some men rich and others poor. It’s consumed by old and young, rich and poor, slave and free. It’s the most widely used and abused drug on the planet. Who can deny its universal grip on mankind? It’s almost like……a god.

It’s time to stop living in denial. What’s next? Is somebody going to develop a 12 step program to help people overcome their “drinking problem?” Are Christians going to start living dry as part of their commitment to Christ? It would be funny were it not so silly.