Thursday, October 6, 2011

This Little Bud Light of Mine

When I used to be a preacher, back before I drove a truckload of dynamite into my life, I attempted incognito Wal-Mart runs.  There were times I just wanted to go in, buy merchandise or toiletries, and exit without, "Hey, Tom (Jan, Jake, or whoever) how are you? Good to see you.  How are the wifey and kids?"  So one night as I am making a mad dash into the supercenter....

Something you have to know about me. I'm extremely observant, like Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory (sans paranoia).  Scanning, scanning... spot church members and spot a six pack of beer on top of the checkout counter.  As I approach to do my pastoral responsibility (Pastoral Manual page 256, item 4.6 "Pastor must greet with smile and firm hand shake or squeezing side hug at all public encounters with parishioners"), Joe and Jan Churchmember quickly turn me away from the checkout counter.  They did not want me to see the beer.  Now, if they were turning me around out of embarrassment for buying Keystone Light, I would have understood, but that was not the reason.  They did not want me to discover their secret consumption of adult beverages, because somewhere they learned that Christians do not drink.

And if you are a boozing Christian, at least pretend you are not.  So when Pastor/Preacher drops in for a visit, transfer the alcohol to the fridge parked in the garage.  Use the Styrofoam cups when the kids are around.  If you have a stash, make sure it is a hidden stash.  And when stumbling upon other closet Christian drinkers, form am alliance, "Shhh, our little secret."

Perhaps it is time we come out of the closet.  If you are Christian who does not drink alcohol, good for you.  If you are a Christian who does, good for you.  Let's just quit hiding.  There is nothing wrong with drinking.  I like a beer every now and then.  I prefer Margaritas and Whiskey and Coke to that.

I believe it is more harmful to the cause of Christ to pretend we don't drink than it is to drink. Pretending reinforces that great lie about our faith, that following Christ is about perception. I once worked for a church where policy dictated that a minister could not drink within a 100 mile radius of the city.  Why?  Because drinking was sinful?  No, because of perception. The Pharisees where masters at perception, but perception is not real.  It is the manipulating of others' thoughts about who you are in a favorable light.  Jesus wasn't after perception.  He was after genuine, honest, raw relationship.  I'm writing this as the #1 offender.  I have lived as a great pretender, using Christianity to shape others' perceptions of me. I was pretty good at it.  I no longer want to spend my time shaping your perception of me.  I want to fall in love with Jesus and fall in love with following Jesus.

So... no, being a closet drinker is not the problem with Christianity, just a symptom of the problem and one I find amusing.  Bottoms up! Whether that be Coca Cola, Guinness, or Horchata.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for your brutal honesty here...and throughout. After leaving ministry myself...under completely different circumstances...but still filled with brutal pain and anguish...I have discovered a similar new found freedom in transparency with Christ, God, and fellow man. The last of those usually freaks out when they realize that I am an inked up liberal minded man who imbibes a bit...and used to be a minister.

    Perception that creates realities is a killer for personal faith walks.

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  2. I'll have a Tusker for you when I get back to Nairobi next week. Missing you desperately.

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  3. Movie friend, good to hear from you! Sorry about the pain ministry caused you. You were, no ARE, a great minister. Hope things are well.

    Neale... miss you a lot too! Excited about your future!

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