Legalism is a pesky problem. We would be mistaken to simply relegate it to religious areas. Rather, we should see legalism as it really is, the perverter of every area of life. Before I explain what in the world I am talking about let us first define legalism. To me, legalism is simply the belief that by doing right one will be considered right or achieve the right ends. Speaking from the heart, legalism says, If I do this I will be accepted, it is pride. Legalism speaks to the ultimate motivations of the heart, is it based in gratitude and humility (gospel), or is it based in pride and fear (legalism).
The reason legalism is such a problem and a perversion of reality, is because God defines reality, and He doesn’t do it with legalism, but Gospel, literally: good news. Through a Gospel lens is how the world must be seen. In the beginning, man’s relationship to God did involve obedience to His law, yet the relationship was never legalistic but always of grace. That is, the ultimate definer of why Man was accepted by God, was grace, not obedience. Man was to obey God, not to earn God’s favor, but because he already had God’s favor, evidenced by his own existence and immediate relationship with God. Obedience was the proper response to the grace of God.
I wonder if we have been long mistaken. Great friendships are not a series of mutual excitements over large accomplishments, but the reciprocal enjoyment of the mundane and simple life.
Overhearing a group of wonderful, gray haired grandmother’s social intercourse, I came to this epiphany: they are not talking about anything “important” or “monumental” but rather very ordinary things, and taking great joy in it. And that makes all the difference.
In the following essay I will attempt to argue that alcohol was created by God as something good to be enjoyed by His people, a good that has been perverted by the human heart, and our culture to only be thought of, wrongly, as evil, and I will seek to change such a man’s opinion. Even many Christians have alcohol in the “evil” category, or at “worst” in the neutral category, and I believe this is unbiblical, so let us begin.
Why does God create anything? Ultimately we do not know, but we do know that part of it is to bring God Himself Glory. How did God create everything? Genesis tells us that God created everything good, Gen 1:31. Everything includes natural things like hemlock, and it means for how the thing was intended. Everything also includes things able to be created by man, like alcohol, or things done by man, like sex, if the thing is used how God intended for the purposes God intended. So, the question I am posing today is simply: how does God view alcohol and namely its use by Christians? The answer might surprise you (to the American Christian): as something ultimately good.
The following article was mostly written before America’s largest lottery prize (to date) was won, but its publishing does come after the event, although its content remains unchanged.
No one cares to ask anymore why we have gotten to where we are and if that is a good thing. In simple terms we all seem to confuse change with progress, and wrongly assume all progress is good, and thus we conclude that all change is good. According to this logic, if something was once wrong, illegal, or considered immoral, but today it is considered legal and moral, then the thing must really be a good thing because we have “progressed”. Case in point: the lottery.
My argument is simple. My argument is clear. If we can kill babies in the womb, and babies are human persons, then we can kill anyone, anytime, anywhere for the same reasons we kill them. If we cannot kill anyone, anytime, and anywhere for those reasons, then we cannot kill babies in the womb, it is that simple. We now seem to believe that our personal desires are more important than even the life of another human, and if it will not stop with the unborn, then it will not ultimately stop with the born, for all human life is threatened when we threaten one unborn human life.
Are human beings worth protecting? Our society still seems to think so, as we still have laws against murder of human beings, and the violence done against them. And more importantly God seems to think so as well.
A man came to me and asked me a very probing question, “Would you give up everything for an hour with Jesus, all your possessions, friends, family, hopes and dreams, and at the end your life?” Pondering deeply, almost without thinking, for thoughts were distracting to my current feelings, I considered deep in my soul both the pro’s and cons. Ashamed I was to not immediately have answered “Yes!”, but I have many idols to give up for Jesus, and considering their loss always gives me pause. Croaking, I tried to speak, but the wheeze swallowed my first words, so I tried again after a large gulp.
“Sir, would you be patient with me and grant me one request, that I might see a man at the end of his time with Jesus?”, I carefully stuttered now in trembling fear for offending the God whose servant this surely was. An eternity separated my shameful question and his accommodating reply. Slowly, or so it seemed, we strolled to the end of one man’s walk with Jesus and just before he died I looked at his face. No earthly comedian could engender such a smile, and no sun could shine so brightly as to mire his countenance nor contentment. Surely, this was a man about to die, and yet he couldn’t be more happy, content, joyful, and ready to meet God and any loss he might have suffered to be with Jesus didn’t seem to play any part in his final demeanor.
It is interesting to me how quickly we forget. Like a fish that forgets it was just feeding, so our own memory lapse could end in our own destruction. Perhaps we should consider ourselves all on the Amnesia spectrum somewhere between minor and sever, this forgetfulness is so epidemic. Why is forgetting such a problem? Forgetfulness is the root of all sorts of evil, malcontent, and otherwise degenerated thinking.
Depending on how one understands the story, it sure seems that Adam and Eve quickly forgot God’s words to them about the tree and perverted them into a memory that benefited their own desires, or so they deceived themselves. Consider further the Children of Israel in Egypt, they complain to God for 400 years about their slavery, and right after God responds and displays His power in ten miracles, a cloud and burning pillar of fire followed by a sea being parted, they almost immediately forget God can command nature and how horrible slavery was and begin believing that they will die for lack of God’s provision and wished they were back in slavery. Yikes!
A young child sat on his fathers lap and asked him, “Daddy where do babies come from?” His father pondered the question a moment, deciding how much detail his son needed to know at eight years old, and replied, “They come from loving mommies and daddies”. Most of us can relate to this scenario. All of us have probably been that child, and many of us have been that parent. Do any of us remember, at this young age, our parent sitting down with us and pulling out a medical reference book and going through all the scientific detail of how babies are created, complete with pictures? Were we then asked to ponder and think through all the reasons and evidence first before making our own opinion on the subject?
Now considering our experience with how our parents explained things like this to us in the past, would we now look back and consider our parent a liar? Should a good parent have pulled out the medical reference book? Should we have been given the chance to ponder all the evidence before coming to our own belief about the subject? Did our parents love us less because they didn’t give us all the details and time to answer our question for ourselves and completely?
I do not know if you keep up with the news like I do but this trend of “men-wear-beards” is really starting to bug me. First it started out with men wearing beards alone and in secret afraid to share their lifestyle choice with others. It was a hard time for these men. They couldn’t help it that they wanted to grow and wear large, full beards. It was just how they matured as men and how they were raised: “real men grow and wear beards, son”. But it was a shameful secret that they had to hide from others because so many people just don’t understand beard wearing men.
Many decades past in America, and the beard growing men started becoming more accepted in society, they no longer had to feel so ashamed to share their beard growing secret with others, they were finally able to come out of the closet, so to speak (closet is referring to their having to hide their beard growing). Soon this wave of acceptance from the culture at large emboldened these men and their supporters, until we have reached our current state of affairs and why I just had to write this blog to get it off my chest.
What do you tell your children when they ask you: “why do we decorate for Christmas”? I know many people haven’t really thought about it much. Obviously the most simple answer would be something akin to: “because its tradition” or “we have always decorated”. This simple answer is like answering the question of, “where did the universe come from” and responding with: “aliens”. It doesn’t actually answer the question because then one can ask a further question: “where did the aliens come from” or in our case “why did this tradition start”.
Wouldn’t you like to know what the decorations mean so you can tell your children why we decorate? Well I cannot tell you what they mean objectively because God hasn’t given us any objective revelation as to what they should or do mean, however I can tell you what I will tell my children when they ask me that fateful question: “daddy why do we decorate?”