The Appearance of Evil

Doing anything to excess is bad for you. If you eat too much it’s bad for you, because you’re going to get fat. Obviously gluttony could be a sin. But we don’t say eating is a sin. We don’t say, “Hey, you can’t eat.” So why do churches say you can’t drink?

There’s seems a common rule among some churches that if you’re on the church staff, drinking alcohol is not allowed. I don’t personally agree with that. You’re saying that if I’m a pastor, or a youth pastor, or somehow on staff, then I’m not allowed to sit at the dinner table and have a glass of wine with my wife. Why not? Why do you think anyone should be reprimanded for that? Because of what it represents?

I’m not misrepresenting the church. Are you saying Jesus misrepresented God when He drank wine? No!

People talk a lot about avoiding the appearance of evil. But why is it evil to have a glass of wine at dinner with my wife? There’s no “appearance of evil” in that. The “appearance of evil” is if I’m drinking wine and standing on the table acting like a hoodlum. There it is. There’s your sin.

Simply enjoying a glass of wine with my wife is not the same as drinking to excess and losing control.  It’s not an appearance of evil. That’s just your judgment.  And it’s not appropriate to judge me or my wife, because we’re doing nothing wrong.

This is just my personal opinion, but I think that when the churches make this rule against drinking, they don’t do it out of fear of God. They do it out of fear of man, and that’s not a good place to live.

I feel like the churches are too afraid of their reputations. They’re afraid people are going to think bad things about them. They’re afraid if someone on staff has a glass of wine, people will think that staff person is a bad person. They’re afraid people will judge the whole church! But that doesn’t make sense to me.  Why should anybody think you’re not good just because you had a glass of wine?  You’re not doing anything wrong.

The answer is usually, “Well, the nonbeliever will think that you’re sinning.” Now that really doesn’t make sense to me. Why would a nonbeliever judge me over something they don’t even believe in? Suppose a nonbeliever sees me having a beer and asks, “Aren’t you sinning?” I would ask, “Well, do you think it’s a sin to drink?” And when they answer “No,” I would say, “Then why do you think I’m sinning?”

There’s no reason for a nonbeliever to think that! It’s just a judgment. If you’re doing nothing wrong, if you’re not living in sin at the time of your alcoholic beverage, then you’re not giving any kind of appearance of evil.

The standard is Jesus. Jesus, who I think drank wine, is the highest standard there is. The King of Kings, God in human flesh! His appearance is the appearance we should reflect.

See you Monday.

Replacing Judgment with Love

Nietzsche said the last Christian died on the cross.

That is such a bold, yet powerful and piercing statement. Is it true? In some ways I feel that it is. And that’s painful!

It’s not just how one man saw it, either. I think a lot of people see it that way. Jesus would not want it to be true, so we need to do something to change it.

It’s a joke how much we judge in the church. Continue reading

And He Will Return

“I love you.”

I see the homeless guy, and I love him. I’m going to help him if I can. That’s being Jesus. That’s the movement I’m asking you to join. It seems simple, and you might think, “Of course, that’s how I was raised,” but most of us still don’t do it very well. I don’t do it very well. There’s so much more I could do to love my neighbor as myself. I keep trying!

The movement to love our neighbor as ourselves is stirring. It is stirring in this world. It is awesome to see.

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes Americans forget that there’s any other country out there. Continue reading

Clay to be Molded, Part 2

The health, wealth, and prosperity Gospel might be a little bit mixed up.  It puts a lot of emphasis on the Bible’s promise that God will prosper you.  Unfortunately, people take that to mean that if they get saved, then Bam!  They become prosperous.

But that’s not going to work.  Just because you accept Jesus, that doesn’t mean you’re instantly transformed. So when the newly converted don’t become prosperous, they lose hope in God.  “Well, obviously there’s no God.  See, I’m not prosperous. They said I was going to be wealthy and prosperous, and my life’s still just as bad as it’s always been.”

There’s more to the lifestyle of Jesus than taking that first step.  Yes, you start by loving Jesus.  Yes, you embrace what He stands for.  You accept His sacrifice for you. But the time still comes when you have to figure out who you want to be, in Christ.  You have to decide who you want to be, in Christ. Continue reading

Beacons of Love

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 1 John 4:20

Why do people who aren’t Christians hate us? They look at us and say “You’re just a bunch of Bible thumpers who are homophobic and you don’t love anybody.”

We’ve brought that on ourselves. We’ve got gay people out there pushing for gay rights and gay marriage, and we’ve got Christians saying “God hates you.” I get so angry because that’s not true. Continue reading

The Hole in Our Gospel

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Recently, a reader asked if I’ve read The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision U.S. I have read the book, and in fact, it was the subject of my very first blog post!

Stearns’ basic point is that there would be a humongous hole in our Gospel if you pulled out all the verses where Jesus talked about justice, poverty, the poor, and helping the orphans and widows. Stearns also says that this is basically what Christians have done. Continue reading

The Appearance of Evil

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Doing anything to excess is bad for you. If you eat too much it’s bad for you, because you’re going to get fat. Obviously gluttony could be a sin.

But we don’t say eating is a sin. We don’t say, “Hey, you can’t eat.” So why do churches say you can’t drink?

There’s a rule among the churches that if you’re on the church staff, drinking alcohol is not allowed. I don’t personally agree with that. You’re saying that if I’m a pastor, or a youth pastor, or somehow on staff, then I’m not allowed to sit at the dinner table and have a glass of wine with my wife. Why not? Why do you think anyone should be reprimanded for that? Because of what it represents?

I’m not misrepresenting the church. Are you saying Jesus misrepresented God when He drank wine? No! Continue reading