Counterfeit

This time of year stirs something in my soul every single year. I end up feeling sad, concerned, angry, frustrated, helpless, useless, determined, and confused as a result of it. Every year around this time, people put on green shirts and funny hats and celebrate St. Patricks’s day. And for many it just becomes a reason to rearrange the wardrobe, decor and props in a life that is marked by drinking and partying. So Instagram, Facebook and Twitter fill up with pics of people lifting their glasses in celebration. Inevitably in these feeds are people I know and some I feel like I know well. But even if I do not know them well, I know many of their professions of faith. I see person after person, both of drinking age and not, wearing green and smiling while drinking.

A few things before I go on:

  1. I am for celebrating St. Patrick’s day.
  2. It still is against the law to drink underage regardless of your religious belief.
  3. Christians are allowed to drink, but they can’t get drunk. For non-christians, it’s your call, do what you feel led to do.
  4. Christians posting pics online with alcohol is a wisdom issue. There is a great chance you are not doing anything wrong, but eliminate the risk and don’t post. Pictures can leave a lot up to interpretation. This is especially true with images from a bar or a party like those connected to St. Patrick’s Day.

Well here is the thing I am get concerned about.  St. Patrick’s day season highlights the issue, but it is something I see all the time. I feel like there is a version of Christianity that has been propagated in which you can call yourself a Christian but your character does not have to change. Let me be clear to the professing Christian: You can not have it both ways. Jesus taught that saying yes to him is saying no to the world. Yes, Christianity is not built on rules. Yes, you are resting on the finished work of Jesus. Behavior does not make you good with God, Jesus does, but those who are good with God have different behavior based on that relationship with Jesus.  Somehow it is being taught that I can say “I love Jesus,” go to the third world and serve, buy justice-conscious clothing, take and post pictures of my Bible with coffee and then still go get drunk because it is a holiday and that is just what you do. No bachelor party, senior year school event, vacation, or holiday are justifiable reasons to live as though God’s decrees are not real. Jesus says (not in a mean voice, but in one that is clear), “if you love me, you will obey me.”

Now I know I sound like I am 100 years old and just one step away from saying “get off my lawn”. But I think the stakes are huge here. We have some “Beyonced” version of Christianity where Jesus can be my homeboy, but I can do whatever I want and those can coexist. That is not real faith in the God of the Bible. It is a form of godliness that ends up lacking all power. It is a recipe for frustration in both worlds you are trying to live. God offers all of us so much more than green beer and silly shirts. He offers us more than the next sexual conquest or another night of laughs. There is more than the trip where I conform to all my friends in the name of image. You think giving up this other part of your life where your character and behavior are altered will be less fun, less cool, less relevant, less whatever.  But the truth is, we settle for less fun, adventure, meaning, purpose and joy when we take anything less than what Jesus wants and asks.

A version of following Jesus in which my character is not conforming to the person of Jesus is no real version at all. It is counterfeit. It is dangerous. It dishonors a holy God. Following Jesus means He is going to alter everything about me, especially my character and my behavior.

4 thoughts on “Counterfeit

  1. Thank you for this message.it is important to hear. I grew up in a church that was anti-alcohol and legalistic. While I did not drink, it was not a holy act because I was depending on me to follow the rules, rather than allowing Jesus to transform me. I left the world of legalism for grace and dependence on the work of Jesus. I still do not get drunk or party, but it is not because of legalism. It is because I am conscious of how my behavior may impact others or represent Christ to the world. My husband and I are so glad we found Grace Fellowship when we moved to Pickerington. We appreciate our Godly pastors and staff.

  2. Also makes me think about how one can get so excited for a holiday that’s meaning is pretty unclear but can’t get excited enough to celebrate Jesus whose gift is quite clear.

  3. I see this too… A lot!
    It is indeed sad that anyone would even question what God’s will is with regard to drinking (or drugging).
    Alcohol can and does completely diminish ones cognitive function and the ability to “hear” the spirit’s guidance in anything.
    Alcohol becomes the guiding force! Which means their IS no force. It anesthesises the brain just like heavy sedatives do prior to surgery. So we see people walking, talking and behaving in ways they would never think of behaving while thinking with a clear sober mind. Then they are left with demoralizing guilt and shame… However, that can be eased rather quickly by doing it again (at least for a while)! Then comes that embarrassing shame, which, calls for relief and can be eased by, yes, another drink.
    Alcoholism continues with this pattern until the drinker doesn’t even have a clue where or how it all began! It’s very sad.
    Those that aren’t affected this way when they drink just look on and shake their heads in utter amazement that this person did it AGAIN…. They must be crazy!
    They can NOT understand because they’ve not been there. It makes no sense! And it doesn’t, not even to the alcoholic. Many pursue the idea of “control” straight to the grave, jail or death.
    Alcoholism is REAL and it is POWERFUL! Those out there drinking and posting pictures have no clue of the potentially fatal affects of those “cute” and “funny” pictures on the struggling alcoholic who feels bored, lonely and out of touch with friends that “loved them dearly” when they were out there with them but now have no contact because of the alcoholic’s need to avoid that scene to save their own life.
    Let’s see🤔…. Do I want to stay isolated, alone and bored to tears? Or just go have a great time with them???
    There are times the alcoholic has NO defense against this argument. Unless he has developed a strong relationship with God and relies on Him to guide him in all things.
    And of course if that person has already picked up a drink he couldn’t hear God’s voice if Jesus Himself were standing right in front of him SCREAMING…. “NO, get honest with yourself, you have BAD reactions with alcohol, don’t do this!” He IS powerless!
    Yet alcohol is a favorite “choice” with a majority of people AND it’s legal.
    I know all this because I’ve “been there”.

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