Suds and Scripture
I was recently told about a bar downtown offering a unique take on trying to generate business. The ad read, “Hey guys! We've got some exciting things coming up!! And SOON! The first Tuesday of every month we will be hosting Theology on Tap! You might be asking yourself what is that? Here's what it is…a conversation. We want to open up to talk about hard things. What makes hard conversations a little easier? A beer! Theology means the study of God. We love God and want to talk about him. We want to provide a safe place to do that. Not your thing? Or you want to check it out, but not be involved? That's totally cool! No pressure.” The ad went on to describe some of the other amenities available for this event.
Gathering in an informal setting to discuss Scripture, with people who probably wouldn’t want to come to a place of worship, is a good idea. We should want to discuss what Scripture says with people with limited or no knowledge of it. This, however, doesn’t sound very conducive to genuine study, of understanding the truth and what one must do to be saved and live the Christian life. One must first acknowledge this advertising is more about increasing the sales of alcohol than it is serious discussion of Scripture. An open tap, consumption of alcohol, and differing ideas on the Bible sounds more like a prescription for disagreements of a heated nature than a desire to obey God. In a society where feelings, rather than a knowledge about God and the Bible, are the criteria for lifestyles rather than pursuit of truth, one can hardly conceive of this leading to New Testament Christianity.
I am reminded of a mission effort years ago where a group of Christians went to a Caribbean country to evangelize. They had studied with an individual who wanted to obey the gospel, and immersing the person in a public pool, one bystander decided he wanted to study and do the same. A time was set for them to meet and do so. The person never showed up, so they went to see if anyone knew where he might be. Being directed to his home, when they arrived, he had no knowledge of them, or ever having agreed to study Scripture. They discovered he was inebriated when he agreed to study the Bible, with a brew that left no odor. In a sober state, he had no desire to study the Bible, even less of committing his life to Christ.
There is no doubt the Lord wants people saved (2 Pet. 3:9). Jesus offers the cleansing his blood provides to all who choose to believe and obey (Heb. 5:9; 1 Tim. 2:4). To come to a knowledge of the truth, to understand one’s need of salvation, what Christ offers, and what one must do, Scripture clearly speaks of a specific state of mind, described as being sober-minded. It conveys the idea of being serious, watchful, able to discern. “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13). It is an appropriate term to describe approaching the divine, in contrast to some pagan religions that used various substances to induce a confused state, which was thought to better enable one to be in touch with the gods. How can one be sure of anything divine when thinking has been compromised and understanding is fuzzy at best?
If one must be consuming intoxicating beverages to want to study the Bible, there is something wrong. May we pray for hearts and minds that are fully alert, able to think clearly and soundly, that want to know about God and his word. Truth can set us free from sin, but only when we can know what it says and respond to it in full understanding and confidence. We must, in faith, conform our thoughts and wills to that of Christ (John 8:31-32).
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”