Throughout human history, the Church has been in a battle against the influences of the world and today is no different. We wrestle against the schemes of the enemy that have twisted the idea that “God is love” and have culturally declared that “Love is god”. In an age of unbalanced tolerance and political correctness, the Church is once again in a fight. This fight is not against the enemy only, but also the culture that the enemy has shaped for his purposes.
For the last number of years, I have seen an increase in Church communities and Christians who live life no different than everyone else. They fit perfectly into the culture in which they live. Even Christian leaders that I once respected are making decisions that have left me dumbfounded. Furthermore, I see Christians revealing a life on social media that screams “I want to fit in!”, rather than “I want to please God!” For me, I count it a privilege to live a life that is countercultural!
Being countercultural is defined as “a group whose values, customs and norms of behaviour are substantially different and usually opposed to those accepted by most of mainstream society”. God has called us as individuals and us as a Church to be countercultural. Not weird! But countercultural! God is calling us to live a life that reveals Jesus with every thought, every word, every action and every attitude. A life that is more about showing Jesus off than distracting people with more of us. I think Paul in his letter to Titus says it perfectly:
Titus 2:11-14 (NIV) – “11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.”
As I am sitting here writing on New Year’s Eve, I am reminded that for most people, tonight is a night of celebration that is regularly contingent upon the presence of alcohol to make it complete. As a Pastor, social worker, family man and friend, I have processed through the topic of alcohol for many years. In the last year alone, many have approached me asking about my thoughts on alcohol. Many times I simply referred them back to our Q & Eh message series from 2013. Today, I want to share with you my personal reasons why I have never had a sip of alcohol in my life and why I want to be countercultural with this issue:
- I want to be about what is beneficial for others, not what is permissible for me (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).
- I want my life to be a building block for someone’s faith, not a stumbling block (1 Corinthians 10:31-33).
- I want my life to be an example, not an excuse (1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Corinthians 11:1).
- I want to avoid any appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
- The only influence I want to be under is God’s (Ephesians 5:18-19).
- Alcohol puts me under its influence and causes me to lose influence (Matthew 5:13-16; Galatians 5:7-9).
- I can’t be sober-minded if I am not sober (1 Peter 5:8).
- If I don’t start drinking, I will never have a problem stopping (Genesis 4:7).
- A Bible in one hand and a beer in the other create a confusing contradiction (Romans 12:2; 1 John 2:15-17).
- I understand that whatever I do in moderation someone else will justify in excess (1 Peter 1:14).
- If I polled 1000 people and asked “have you been negatively affected by alcohol at some point in your life”, all 1000 would say yes (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; John 17:17).
- I have never had someone sit across the desk from me and say, “Once I started drinking alcohol, my life got better” (Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 23:20-21).
- I believe that when the world sees us drinking, it says that Jesus isn’t enough (Colossians 2:6-9; John 3:30).
- I believe that alcohol taints my testimony (Romans 12:1; Proverbs 25:28).
- I am called to live a life of surrender and separation, not of rights and relevancy (Luke 9:23).
As we turn the page of our calendar to a new year, I want to challenge you to make 2016 the year where you choose to live countercultural. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to change and transform our hearts and lives so that others will want to follow Jesus because of how we follow Him. Happy New Year!