What’s a good Christian supposed to do at a party?
Certainly, he shouldn’t have been at the party in the first place, that den of sin. Ok, maybe he’s the designated driver. He should sit in a corner carefully watching his friends (who he will be righteously driving home later that night) but he better not look at a girl. It might weaken his witness, ruin his testimony. If anyone DOES see him though, they’ll see the perfect example of what an American Christian looks like and they might say “good for him” but they will want nothing to do with him. Mr. Christian didn’t talk about Jesus. He didn’t show love or share life but yes, he had resolve.
Mr. Christian did what American Jesus taught him to do and it didn’t change anyone’s life.
I wonder if I should watch my step as I write this..
I don’t want to be a mocker of Christians trying to live in a way that pleases God. For many, that means abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, etc. and the situations that lead to those things, like parties. I get it. It has nothing to do with sanctification or levels of spirituality, or maturity. Parties can and will be bad environments for someone who seeks God. I think the line is much further than we’re comfortable accepting though.
Let’s think about it quite literally for a moment. If I lived 2020(ish) years ago and I wanted to seek God, to ACTUALLY FIND HIM…I would find him at a party. He would be hanging out with the party crowd, the “bad influences”, the drinkers, and the smokers. Do you think he was smiling? Was He whipping people and flipping the beer-pong table over like He did in the temple? Was he a buzz-kill? I’m trying to imagine how my friend Jesus actually acted at parties. No doubt, he was laughing, drinking the wine that he made, and making friends with sinners. Friends talk about life and ideas. They talk about politics and share jokes. It’s always funny to me when some new friends of mine apologize for cursing only after they find out that I’m a Christian. They don’t want to offend me and that’s so cool. I laugh it off and say it’s no big deal because it isn’t. God knows I had the worst mouth my first couple years of High School and I’m not a different person.
Christians by definition experience the love of God but who is going to love the one that hasn’t had that experience? Who will get close enough to really love them? I don’t even like writing the word them. It separates when we should draw near. It carries a condescending tone but I have no clever way of getting around it. How can you love John when you catch up in a public place but steer clear of him on the weekend? Why would Kate feel loved by someone who wont step into her life and share in her celebrations or defeats?
Let’s be clear though: have discretion. Sin is not a legitimate means to the end of showing someone Christ. Be wise.
A couple of my most meaningful moments of ministry were at parties. One such time was with a good group of reunited friends and some new people I had never met. It was a healthy mixing pot of different beliefs but that’s not important. For the night, we were all just human beings laughing and enjoying each others presence. I sat at a table and was talking with a guy I had never met before and He brought up God (because of a bracelet I had forgotten to take off from a recent Christian conference). We shared ideas about God and Jesus and the Universe. I was genuinely interested in what he believed and he was genuinely interested in what I believed. Sincerity fosters great conversation, something I think Christians especially should practice. While we talked, another guy sat and listened for a good 10 minutes before speaking up. He just wanted to clarify something I had said before and ended up joining in and being a very interesting part of the conversation. Overall, I talked with these two for at least 20 minutes but it was getting late and they needed to leave. My first reaction was frustration at God that I had such a golden opportunity to talk about Jesus and they had to leave sooner than I wanted. But the guy who joined in later said something that changed how I view that moment. He said he appreciated how genuine I was and loved how much compassion I had when sharing what I believe. He said every other Christian he had talked to would start an argument and wouldn’t have anything to do with it. He knew I cared about him.
In hindsight, that moment may not have been so much for him, but more for me. It encouraged me that I was doing something right, that Jesus CAN show love through me and people see it. I was in the right place and did what God wanted me to in that moment. On the other hand, it was a discouraging moment because of all of those other Christians he ran into that gave him a bitter taste in his mouth. No wonder the world stopped taking us seriously. We lost that privilege when we stopped loving them and started judging them. We know the textbook answer and try to add the disclaimer that we’re not judging but its too transparent. We disapprove not just of their actions but of them. Stop it.
fittingly enough, I took a 5 after writing this far and read this tweet:
How do you measure your life? Bank balance? Weight? Job performance? Consider how loving you are toward others. That’s what matters to God.
— Mark Driscoll (@PastorMark) February 27, 2014