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August 7, 2013

Standing Strong

It's easy to stand strong when those around you believe and live the same way you do.  This is why it's easier to stick to some biblical stances that are a bit "controversial" in this culture, like homosexuality and premarital sex.  But what about when you find yourself at odds with your brothers and sisters in the church?  That is much harder to stand strong.

I both love and hate being the Social/Cultural chair for Concordia seminary sometimes.  More specifically, I both love and hate being in charge of Oktoberfest and Springfest.  This is because as German Lutherans, we love our beer.  Yet, Paul lists drunkenness with the likes of sins along with the other things we take a hard stance against.

For example in 1 Corinthians 6 Paul writes, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, not adulterers, nor med who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."  And in Galatians 5 Paul writes, "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."  And in Ephesians 5, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit."

I think you get my point.  The Bible is filled with all kinds of warning against drunkenness whether you look at the Old Testament or New.  So, what do you do when you find yourself in charge of Oktoberfest, a celebration so known for beer that a lot of breweries even make an Oktoberfest beer, at a seminary that is training pastors in a German Lutheran, who love beer, tradition?  Now, I am not against drinking at all.  I enjoy the occasional beer.

To be fair, I know that I am probably more sensitive to this issue than most.  When my cousin was killed when she was struck by a drunk driver, and when he put my other cousin in a back brace after almost taking her life as well.  At a young age, this has an impact on you.  Still, here I stand in this tension.  What do I do?  It's a lot harder when you know that if you stand strong, people in your own community will turn against you.

1 comment:

  1. Timothy,
    Be encouraged - the God who created the earth and the stars, put you in this position. Perhaps there is conviction to be found in your pain.

    As you laid out here, God's Word is unequivocal - drunkenness is contrary to God's will for our lives.

    As chair, you presumably have more authority to influence these events. Hold the Biblical standard high, and as everyone in the seminary community should know, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. " (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV). You may indeed be called to break down the unrepentant sinner with the Law - help to train them in righteousness.

    It may not be easy, but "...everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." (also 2 Timothy 3).

    So where then is your help?

    Your "...help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth." (Psalm 121, at right).

    So be bold, for Christ left us with the Spirit and "...the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace."

    Glory be to God that he has given you, and each of us a role in His purposes. May the Spirit of God comfort and strengthen you in those moments of doubt, and ground you to Christ in those moments where you think you might be able to stand on your own.

    In Him,
    Wesley

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