I’m following a Facebook post by my friend in which he questions “what is the line between ‘merriment’ and ‘sin’ when it comes to Christians drinking?” This is an important question because there’s a lot of discussion around this topic and many Christians disagree (and it’s my personal opinion that Michael likes to start controversy on social media for fun!).
One commenter said the following:
“I think Paul’s writings are good insight to behavior, social norms, drinking, smoking etc. i.e. the worthy walk. It’s not a list of does and don’ts, a set of behaviors, it’s not a perfect formula. He talks about attitudes, characteristics. I think the Christian can be obsessed with the external behaviors. As long as you do these external things you are holy. Even though you’re devoid of love, full of pride, judgmental towards others, arrogant, cruel etc. This, I think, trivializes the gospel. The God of the universe that holds every molecule together is only concerned about our internal matters. God is a lover of people not behaviors. I know I’m kinda going off course, but I think this is a subject that includes a lot of other things. Paul says live according to your conscious and don’t go around offending people. It differs from person to person. If you have a passion for Jesus, you will have an internal mechanism that will be your guide. We don’t need to make God the policeman of behavior—that can lead people to dress up the outside—but the character and attitudes that reflect those of Jesus are missed.”
It made me think about that Scripture that warns against “having a form of godliness…” That’s scary to me. To think that one could claim Christianity, perform, and do all the “good things” externally that make a Christian but internally be so far removed from God that He might as well be Jiminy Cricket is, unfortunately, the case for many people, myself included at times.
Cultural Christianity says “Jesus loves me and He forgives my sins, so I’m going to try to be a good Christian and follow all the rules; and even if I don’t actually give an honest effort to become more like Christ through the renewal of my mind and heart, it’s cool because Jesus is my friend and He loves me so much he died for me, so it’s all good.” That’s not Christianity. If we’re being real here, that’s not even religion. That’s behavior modification. That’s a little kid acting like a sweet angel when his mother is in the room, but the second she leaves, he hits his sister and makes her cry.
I’m only going to say this once, so I need you to listen closely:
THE GOSPEL CANNOT BE WATERED DOWN TO THE EQUIVALENT OF CHRISTIAN COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY!
Side note: For those who don’t know, CBT is used to change unhealthy and destructive behaviors and replace them with healthy ones. So, it’s basically coping, coping, and more coping.
Jesus did not descend to Earth and die so we could just cope with life and all its hardness until a happy moment happens. We are not just existing and surviving for happy moments. That’s a good way to go insane and be clinically depressed. Likewise, He did not spend three years of ministry for His followers to play pretend with His power, acting as if we are holy based solely on external behaviors, only to hurt, slander, and abuse others (or ourselves) when we think no one is looking. Having a relationship with God is hard. I’m not saying it’s going to be a straight shot of happy days and rainbows with no tornadoes in the mix, but external, “good” Christian behavior will only take you so far.