Saturday, July 7, 2012

Permissible vs. Beneficial

In the last little while, I have noticed an increase of Christian's who are in a relationship with the Lord, partaking in things that are more permissible than beneficial. I think due to my past/life before Christ, I am extra sensitive to these types of things -- excessive drinking, bar hopping, foul language, immodest dress, inappropriate relationships, etc. However, I don't think I am totally off base here.

How are these things justified? Yes, Jesus ate with the sinners. That's one fair angle. But my angle would be... the light of Christ needs to shine brightly through all of us who are Christians. The light surely will shine brightest in a dark place. But if the dark places are your most frequent places, where is growth happening? where are you being fed? when does the light recharge?

I am absolutely, 100% about reaching people for Christ. And spending time talking with people in bars, that is certainly one way to reach lost people. And no, I am not saying that is a wrong way. I think that is how it all starts for a lot of people, anyway. But when bar hopping, excessive drinking, etc. are the things that we as Christians do for fun, we are dimming the light of Christ and no longer focusing on reaching the lost but more on having a good time. I am all about having a good time. But sadly, many Christians in our society today would call me "boring" because I'd rather play a board game with friends than go grab a 2-for-1 special during happy hour.

This may totally be opening up a can of worms, but it is something that has been heavy on my heart for a long time now. I want to clarify again, I am not against drinking, but it is such a gray area that I think it needs to be done with heavy discernment, sound judgement, and proper motives.

My thoughts/advice and what I try to ask myself before entering into a "gray" area type situation-- Be aware of who is watching you. Seek to be above reproach. Be focused on the cross, not yourself. Aim to please God, not people. What is permissible may not be beneficial. And bottom line, be more concerned with spreading the name and love of Christ than having a "good time."

"I have the right to do anything," you say--but not everything is beneficial." - 1 Corinthians 6:12


  1. It's an interesting discussion to have. I think it's more a discussion of moderation than of "permissible/beneficial." Having a few beers at a restaurant with a group of friends is no more "beneficial" to my Christian walk than playing Settlers of Catan with those same friends. If I stay out too long and let my conversations be extremely negative while "on the town", it is just as negative as playing Settlers of Catan for 5 hours and gossiping the whole time. I may be stretching it a little with this example, but my basic point is that anything can be twisted and turned into a negative activity. Movie nights, board games, going to a bar/club with friends, sporting events... we have the potential to turn all of those things into negative/non-beneficial events.

    Personally, despite my extreme love of movies, I hate movie nights. Most Christians a I know LOVE movie nights, but I just can't do them because I get frustrated/bitter at all the people who talk. Most Christians I know absolutely love board game nights. Most of the time, I avoid those completely. I don't enjoy those nights, the conversations are usually always shallow and only about the games we're playing, and I'm also a bit of a sore loser. Not good or beneficial for me.

    I don't go to restaurants/bars and drink/hang out with friends in order to start spiritual conversations in a "secular" environment (not that a living room is any more or less secular than a bar). I go to have good real-life conversations with friends and sometimes others that are around me. Those are the situations where I've noticed conversation thriving the most, as opposed to game nights where we just gossip or talk about the games we play, or movie nights where there is no conversation at all or just general talking that inevitably annoys me.

    I'm rambling now, but the bottom line is that 1) Different people like different things, and most of those things aren't inherently bad unless 2) Moderation is not practiced. Some hobbies/social activities might benefit you more than someone else, and I know you're not saying this but it's worth remembering that just because they aren't beneficial to you doesn't mean they aren't beneficial to someone else. I hate to end on such a hokey obvious note though =P

  2. Also, meant to throw this in there, but in response to this quote... "My thoughts/advice and what I try to ask myself before entering into a "gray" area type situation-- Be aware of who is watching you. Seek to be above reproach."

    I'd say that getting beers with friends at a local brew pub is no more "gray" than going shopping at a mall with friends, playing board games, or grilling out in the back yard. The grayness is a cultural perspective only, and someone in London, Australia, Russia, or China, would all have different definitions of what that "gray" area is. I can accidently cause someone else to sin by having a beer around an alcoholic just as much as I can accidently cause someone to sin by shopping at a mall with a friend who manages money poorly. We need to be cautious in all that we do, yet we shouldn't live with the constant paranoia that we might be doing something wrong. It shouldn't be about what others around us might think. I love how you said it at the end:

    "Be focused on the cross, not yourself. Aim to please God, not people."

  3. Interesting thoughts, Andrew. Thanks for sharing! I knew I'd be opening up a can of worms... haha