Not a Drunkard:
I used to read this passage and scratch my head because it was such a no brainer. Yet experience on planet earth has a funny way of altering one’s perspective. My experience has caught up with my ignorance, and I believe it because I have seen it. Paul had obviously seen it. As a guy who has worked rehab, and lost my father, a mentor, and a best friend to substance, I can’t even tell you how important it is to yield yourself to the Holy Spirit. That’s the choice: The Spirit or spirits. Alcohol takes away your inhibitions and fills you with liquid stupid leading to sexual immorality. It’s devastating when people turn to alcohol instead of God to deal with their pain. Once you have let God into those areas of pain, rejection, and loneliness, there is no more need for the comfort of the bottle. Jesus said, “I will send you the Comforter”. We just don’t believe him. After all Southern Comfort fits so comfortably in my hand, and warms as it goes down.
Nonetheless, consider that the next generation is saturated with deep seated pain, and is desperately trying to medicate it into oblivion. They are unaware, as are many Christians that the resurrection power of Jesus alone can break every chain. Before we can liberate the P.O.W.s we first must have our chains of addiction broken off. If we’re going to see this omni-addicted generation set free, then like Neitzche once said, “the redeemed are going to have to look a little more ‘saved’ if they’re going to convince anyone”.
Make no mistake. Drinking alcohol isn’t immoral. With a drink in your hand, you’re in good company with Jesus on the firing line before the pharisees. This qualification isn’t about drinking, however, it’s about getting drunk. Many can’t seem to do one without the other, but for those who can, tilt one back for the others…but maybe only one.
As a church planter, you probably can’t even begin to imagine what money in your hand feels like. Money however can be a greater temptation to those who don’t have it than to those who do. Paul wrote pointedly to a minister that the love of money is the root of many evils. Paul also knew that there would come times when for the sake of the gospel, the planter would need to sacrifice for the sake of the work. I’ve personally invested missionary money into the work of the church plant, and many planters can tell the tale of months eating C-rations.
Greed is the American pastime. Bono once said that success is America’s religion. It’s certainly an American pastime, even if we can’t see it. After all, the fish is the last one to notice the water. In America, we call our greed other names, but a rose by any other name would still smell greedy. This leaks into leadership when a planter chooses to merely follow the quickest route to megadom by selecting to plant in a upper-middle class area. Meanwhile, the poorer communities stand neglected. Let’s face it, the lifestyle of a minister can be quite lucrative. The psychology of somebody who has built an empire is that they’ve worked hard, put their time in, made sacrifices, and now they should be able to deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labors. After planting a church, a leader is tempted to think the same. I often can’t shake the contrast between Paul’s description to the Corinthians of his ministry and the entitled lifestyle of religious businessmen imitating spiritual leaders. Whereas Paul risked his life, traveled grueling miles, and endured persecution for the gospel, Ministers strut like CEOs, but work half as hard, reading books, drinking coffee, and cracking jokes from a platform one day a week.
They buy the latest toys, fly first-class at whim to any destination, and indulge at any expensive restaurant justifying the opulence because it’s being done for God. In this self serving and un-sacrificial model of ministry the only thing ministers seem to be sacrificing is their family (Titus 1:11). Churches can be the epitome of greed, raking in millions, yet eking out so little to those who are in need.
That said, I have good news for you. If you’re church planting this probably won’t be a temptation for a while. Most planters are poor for some time and take a subconscious vow of poverty concerning what they make from the church.
Buy Peyton’s newest book “Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art” over on Amazon.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch a cool trailer for the book HERE or click the image below.