Tonight I will once again sally forth into the fray, exposing myself to debauchery, drunkenness, sacrilegious song and other temptations of the flesh. I just hope I have a good time.
There was a period not too long ago, just after I had my conversion experience, when I was a bit unsure as to how a Christian should behave. I think my confusion was due to where my spiritual home was at the time; a fairly conservative Methodist church (pretty hard to find these days). Confronting the challenges of Methodism’s fading Puritanism along with the ‘old time religious’ habits of my congregation, I felt like my lifestyle might be inconsistent with someone who claimed to be born again. So I faked it. I was a chimera – the owner of separate personality characteristics- some reserved for my church, some for those who knew me to be a Christian and some for those who did not know me at all.
I’ve talked about this at other times and places so I don’t want to bore anyone with the details. Suffice it to say, I was masquerading as what I thought a Christian was supposed to look like. I am embarrassed to tell of some of the silly things I did. For example; when friends from church would visit we would hide the wine, the wine glasses and the corkscrew, lest anyone get the ‘right’ idea. I began to think of myself as a clean cup with a permanently stained bowl.
You can imagine my relief when I found out that I need not become a 21st century disciple of Carrie Nation in order to be a “good Christian”. I remember the pivotal point as an enjoyable evening spent having cocktails with another Christian couple while listening to live music at a local…(gasp!)….bar. No lightning bolts fell from the sky and it was not the slippery slope to hedonism that I’d heard about. (Or more likely what I thought I had heard.) That was a few years ago and since then I have grown in my faith and, losing some of these hang-ups, learned how to enjoy life in the process. I’ve also had more opportunity, through the casual acquaintance of people I’ve met in “secular” venues, to talk about Jesus.
A friend from work has a band, a classic rock- heavy metal type band that will be playing near my home tonight. He’s had a fairly difficult time of it lately. About a year ago he had his own ‘conversion’ experience and, like so many of us, went through some significant lifestyle changes. The partying he once enjoyed has fallen by the wayside, with the smokin’ and the drinkin’ that go along with it. He’s had some influence on the band as they no longer play music that employ lyrics of a violent or overly sexual nature and any song that even hints of insulting God has been kicked off the play list.
Yet the people of his church are telling him that he is sinful and the Bible is very clear in its condemnation of bars, bands and beer. In the process they use terms such as; sinners, fornicators, profane, drunkards, depraved, sluts and whores. I guess I should take offense, since these epithets are also directed towards people like me and my wife, since we will be in attendance this evening. But that doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is that these words, these bigoted thoughts, are being directed at anyone at all. None of the patrons at these clubs and bars are known to his congregation yet they have been conveniently labeled and filed away under the heading “unsaved”.
It is also disappointing that, when confronted with a man in their midst, who has grown closer to God through Jesus, they demand an immediate and visible change in his habits and appearances. This change needn’t be something that mimics Christ, who was also labeled as a glutton and drunkard as well as someone who consorted with prostitutes and the unclean. He need only mimic those in his congregation, becoming a born again chameleon. To avoid being preyed upon it may be necessary for him take on their colors, blending in with the ecclesiastical scenery. To his credit, he refuses to be this type of hypocrite and suffers even more scorn and derision.
I wonder how many other Christian chameleons are out there. For those of you who find yourselves in this type of scenario, weary of always having to be ‘on’, censoring your speech and playing at being holy, I heartily recommend coming in from the cold. The company is warm and the beer is cold.