Let me begin by saying I fully expect to get in trouble for the post. I have considered what I am about to write. I have sat on these thoughts for days (some even years) and I feel like it is time to share them. I am ready for people to call me judgmental and petty. I trust others will just think this is silly. Some will even accuse me of being legalistic or “rules” bent or something in that lane of thought. With that in mind, my heart for this is just one of concern and confusion. I really love Jesus and his church. (His church being those who are his disciples/followers). When a person claims to belong to Jesus, that carries weight with me. This is not an association that should be taken lightly. My experience both first-hand as an observer with people who profess a personal faith with Jesus and how they behave on St. Patrick’s Day has continually perplexed me.
I married into an Irish family. Every year my family joins thousands of people in the city of Columbus, Ohio, for the Irish Family Reunion. We hit the parade and then make our way to Vets where thousands gather to listen to Irish music, watch Irish dancing, hang out, eat and of course, drink. I mention this simply to say I have had a first-hand sampling of what many partake in on St. Patrick’s Day. Furthermore, thanks to Facebook and Twitter, now I get pictures and tweets and status updates that are just dropped in front of me. I do not go looking for these, they just are in front of you in the course of what I would look at almost any day. So as I have heard the stories, read the posts, seen the pictures and witnessed the actions, I have felt led to share this to those people who love Jesus and yet are big into the St. Patrick’s Day thing. Please note, this is for people who are calling themselves Christians. If you are not one, no worries. This is not for you. But if you are saying that you are with Team Jesus, then keep reading.
Dear Christian who loves St. Patrick’s Day,
You are alive and it is a day that ends in “y.” This means Jesus is King and Lord. It means His ways are the ways we are to pursue. So just like any other day for the Christian, we are an ambassador for the Lord. We represent Him. We are to point people to Him. God wants to make His plea through us. This means that March 17 is not a day off. Neither is our birthday, or our friend’s bachelor party, or the wedding we are going to next weekend or some time on vacation. God wants to use our every breath to make Him famous. This includes the days we have on green t-shirts from Old Navy.
God is not a prude. He invented wine and alcohol and the distilling process. He even turned water into wine. He drank wine. We are even encouraged to drink and be merry as a way of enjoying life. But God also clearly states boundaries. Any boundary God gives is for our protection and His plan, so we must heed it. God states many times that drunkeness is a sin. We say and do things we would not do without the influence of alcohol running through our bodies. Many of these things are not good. Some green beads around our neck do not change God’s direction for this area of our lives.
Camera phones and social media are tricky things. You many have only had one drink and are just hanging out. But what you present to others does matter when you are connected to Christ. So the standard picture of you in a green hat, with your arm around 2 girls, holding a Guinness may be innocent, but that is not clear. I am learning to assume the best about these kind of pictures and images, because I have made wrong assumptions. That said, just be careful with what ends up in the cyber world. Technology has a way of making things instant, permanent and global…and you may not be ready for that.
If your St. Patrick’s Day plans look the same after you became a disciple of Jesus than before you were a follower, this should be a cause for pause. Jesus changes us. We are defined by Him and His grace. Our direction and worth are found in Him. There is no need to chase superficial hookups and nights of shots because we have come to see that those things could never give us was God can through Christ. But if you are “all-in” for Jesus and nothing has changed….maybe you are not really “all-in.” Look, every believer continues to sin, I know this by the reality of the grossness of my own life, but there ought be progress and a reshaping of our values if we are truly His. Here is what I am getting at…what is driving you to keep wanting that same March 17 experience?
I love Jesus and you say you do to. I want to understand how it is possible to mix our love for Christ with the traditional view of our culture that says I am going to wake up on March 18 with a hangover. Help me understand. I am for you and love you.