Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Social Praying vs. Social Drinking

Author's Note: I'm doing a sermon series on Sunday's about prayer. This week, I'm going to be talking about Jesus' claim concerning praying with other people, or in other words "social prayer". The term made me think of "social drinking", and then the following was what came out of me for a bulletin article. But I decided that it sounded too much like an article about drinking than prayer, so instead of just deleting it, I decided to send it to you for your consideration and feedback. Enjoy.


Eph 5:18 – “Do not use wine for something that the Spirit of God can do better.” – Paul, in Ephesians 5:18 (BRV – Brian’s Revised Version)


You've heard of the term “social drinking”? It’s a word that is used, mostly by Christians (to distinguish themselves in their use of alcohol from those who use it to get drunk), but also by alcoholics (to discuss their own capacity or incapacity to be around people who drink without taking one themselves). Drunkenness is prohibited specifically by the writers of scripture, and therefore, so the thinking goes, is prohibited in the lives of Christians. Drinking socially, however, is not specifically condemned (and is even exemplified in scripture) and therefore is considered “permissible.”


I wouldn't argue with that. Technically speaking.


But Andrew Murray observes that “So many Christians imagine that everything that is not positively forbidden and sinful is permissible to them. So they try to retain as much as possible of this world with its property and enjoyments. The truly consecrated soul, however, is like a soldier who carries only what is needed for battle.”


Oddly enough, while so many Christians defend their right to indulge in (moderately, of course) this world's “property and enjoyments” freely, boldly protecting (if not promoting) their right to do so, they oftentimes take issue with the suggestion that they should freely take Heaven’s “property and enjoyments” and expand them, too, into all arenas of life.


Social prayer is one of those things. It is amazing to me how many Christ followers are self-conscious, some to the point of thinking themselves incapable, about praying together. They’ve deemed their prayer life a private thing, which is true, but it is not the whole truth. So, the irony that some Christians practice social drinking in front of the world feeling as if it is faithfulness to Christ will not practice social prayer, even with their spouses, let alone with fellow believers, and yet still feel faithful to Christ.


I’m not trying to say that social drinking “is a sin” as much as I am saying it is an entanglement with the worldly way of life that many Christians are uncomfortably bold about. Additionally, I’m not even trying to say anything about social drinking as much as I am trying to promote social praying.


Why? Because Jesus gave a special promise for the united prayer of two or three who agree in what they ask. He said, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them.”


Oh, that Christians would be more prone to deem their drinking the private thing, rather than something to fellowship around with other believers, and then move prayer to the status of a social thing around which they enjoy their time together.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

How I Vote

I asked my son Jakin (5 years old) today at the Bread Shop if he knew who he wanted to be president, as we ate our slices of cinnamon chip bread with butter and honey. He said confidently that he did. I asked him who? He answered....
"John Bush."
I laughed out loud. Partly because my five year old boy has a strong political opinion, with conviction in his voice. Partly because if reporters had been there to record it, I could imagine the Democrats making a political commercial that said, "See...even a 5 year old boy knows that a vote for John McCain is a vote for 4 more years of Bush!" And I could see the Republicans making one that said, "See...he's already half-way towards the right decision at only 5 year old!"
I don't usually vote. I pray, which I believe is a far more powerful influence on the outcome of the election than my vote, and it also allows for my 1) humility to be exerted in not knowing who would be better for Christ's Kingdom to be advanced, 2) laziness in being a tad uninformed about the men and issues and relative importance of each concerning my freedom to live for Christ day in and day out, and 3) passionate desire to care deeply about my country and direction it goes, without arrogantly asserting that I should know.
Many decry my morality in not voting. "What would happen if every Christian had your attitude, and didn't vote?" I got asked this year. My answer? "If every Christian skipped voting, and prayed to God with as much activism and zeal as many do with their political activism, what I think would happen is that we would change the world for Christ with more vigor and effectiveness than any US election every could." 
In Ed Fudge's excellent grace mail on the subject (copied below), he articulates well much of how I feel. He votes. I don't. Another example of people having deep philosophical agreement that results in different outcomes. But for what it is worth, "My name is Brian Mashburn and I approve this message."
>>>From Edward Fudge on 11-2-08:
"This Tuesday, November 4, 2008, millions of Americans will go to the polls and register their choices for President and Vice-President. For the first time ever, voters will choose between two sitting U.S. Senators for President, neither of whom was born within the continental United States. A number of gracEmail subscribers have asked my political opinions; others have kindly sent me theirs. And several, from both ends of the political spectrum, are so confident of God's will that there is nothing left to discuss.

Today, most Christians in the USA consider voting to be a moral duty, unaware that notable believers from Tertullian (2nd century) to David Lipscomb (20th century) have taught that Christians ought to have no part in earthly government whatsoever. My own father held that view, which I respect but do not share. On the other hand, my father's father, an Alabama sharecropper, was almost a Yellow Dog Democrat (one who would vote for a yellow dog if it ran on the Democratic ticket). Almost -- but not quite. In 1928, faced with the choice between presidential candidates Herbert Hoover (Republican) and Al Smith (Democrat, but also Roman Catholic), his other prejudices prevailed and he stayed home altogether.

As this Election Day approaches, room does remain for careful thought. We had as well acknowledge it -- millions of intelligent, conscientious Christians throughout the United States will pray for divine wisdom this Tuesday, search their hearts for God's will, then mark their ballots in opposing columns. These thoughtful believers all understand the need to make judgments informed by scriptural principles. The fact is that when they read the Bible, different things stand out. No political party or candidate measures up to all of God's standards. Every political option is less than perfect. Because believers prioritize differently those biblical principles they share in common, and because they relegate biblical duties differently as between the individual and the state, whenever these believers attempt to discuss specifics, they usually talk past each other.

But there are some matters on which we can all agree. God rules the world, and -- whether through our vote or in spite of it -- governments rise and fall as he ordains (Dan. 4:32; Rom. 13:1-2). Regardless of our political opinions, as believers we are commanded to pay our taxes, to render honor to those holding office (Rom. 13:6-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17) and to pray for all those in authority (1 Tim. 2:1-4). It is wrong to speak evil of rulers (2 Peter 2:9-10). Any nation that fears the Lord will reap blessing, and any country that ignores or defies God will pay a price (Prov. 14:34; Psalm 2:1-12; Rev. 18:1-24). And, when all is said and done, our citizenship is in heaven -- wherever and whenever we happen to live on this earth (Phil. 3:20-21; Acts 17:24-27).

Copyright 2008 by Edward Fudge. This gracEmail may be reproduced or remailed without further permission but only in its entirety, without change and without financial charge. Visit our website here or go to<<<