Yesterday, I mentioned that Jesus made real wine, and not juice, at Cana. For most of us, this is not even an issue but it can be a source of confusion for some people.
Several years ago, I got into a conversation about this subject and one person in the conversation vowed never to speak to me again because I said Jesus drank actual wine. Apparently, her preacher assured her that Jesus invented Welch’s, or something, and she refused to read scripture for herself. If you have ever wondered about this, here is a good article.
“Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.” Proverbs 31:6-7
Many people will take the verse from Proverbs out of context. Always read scripture in context. The book of Proverbs is a collection of wisdom sayings and this particular quote comes from a larger story that is not about drinking at all. It is about social justice.
The poor, it says, often drown their sorrows in strong drink (some translations say beer) or wine. Leaders should not turn to alcohol to comfort them. As Christians, we are supposed to be leaders in our community exemplifying our ideals by bearing fruit. While it is perfectly fine for a Christian to have a drink, we do not need to drown our sorrows and, as the scripture says, lose track of our purpose or trespass on the rights of others. We are not to cause others to stumble.
I have had many friends who have struggled with alcohol over the years. I will probably have many more. It is not a struggle limited by age, gender, race, or class. Idols know no boundaries. In my youth, I probably made an idol of it myself. Probably? I am certain of it. I was fortunate not to become addicted as many others have.
As we reflect on life over the weeks leading up to Easter—the empty tomb—let us all consider the idols we hold onto in life. For many, alcohol and drugs are the dominant force of existence—completely controlling every impulse. For others, money is the root of all imaginary happiness. For others, maybe it is sex, food, games, tobacco, or social media. Anything you put ahead of your time with God is your idol.
During Lent, many Christians from various traditions will fast from a vice or, in some way, give up something for the season. This is not mandatory, of course. In fact, giving up something you shouldn’t be doing is not a sacrifice. Fasting from a sin is not fasting, it is obedience. Consider what you can do to make a difference in the lives of others. Looking back at the verse from Proverbs it goes on to tell us we should be the voice for those in need. Instead of just giving up a vice for Lent, or making some other more legitimate sacrifice while fasting, consider giving God your time. Donate your time to a worthy effort in your church or community. Give the money you would have wasted to a higher purpose at the charity of your choice.
Whatever you do in contemplation this Lenten season, make it a blessing and a benefit to your soul. We are fed by feeding.