Liberty and Beer.

The colonial revolution of 1776 was an anomaly in world history. Courageous men and women dared to rebel against their sovereign and reclaim their God given right to the freedom of self rule. They wanted to experience life in the buck naked world of liberty. Huzzah!

I on the other hand, when on vacation with my wife’s family, have neither the liberty nor freedom to express any interest or desire for that very thing Sam Adams produced to finance the revolution which is so very dear and near to our hearts. Beer. Ice cold beer. Not once during my whole time on vacation was I able to openly partake of that which I enjoy so much during a relaxing, hot, summer vacation. A cold beer.

On the way home I wondered why it was I had to sneak around to the fifth floor to my brother in law’s parents who had Miller Lite stashed away in the fridge for a cold frosty one. Why couldn’t I have acted in my own freedom in front of people who love me?

Here’s why. Much of my extended family believes drinking alcohol is a sin. Or at least they talk like it is. And act like it too. What does God have against alcohol anyway?

Actually, not as much as some might think. Trust me, I was motivated to look this one up. The Bible mentions alcohol about 250 times, most often as a normal and accepted part of life, and several dozen times says it is a blessing from God, and the lack of it is a curse! Can I get an amen? For instance, Psalm 104 says,

God waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate — bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.

In Isaiah 25, anticipating the return of Christ and a feast to celebrate his majesty Isaiah predicts,

On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine — the best of meats and the finest of wines.

So that’s good news. Beer, well wine anyway, gets the official stamp of approval from the Almighty. Cheers.

But in defense of my teetotaling relatives, I do have to admit they have a point. You probably saw the posters your RA put up around the hall your freshman year:

Nearly 40% of criminals are using alcohol at the time of the offense for which they are convicted.

55% of men who acknowledged committing sexual assault on a date reported being intoxicated or “mildly buzzed” at the time of the assault.

53% percent of the college women who experienced sexual aggression on a date were under the influence of alcohol.

30% of all fatal crashes during weekdays are alcohol-related.

51% of all fatal crashes on weekends are alcohol related.

If you were a beer and were looking for a job, those aren’t the sorts of things you’d want listed on your resume.

That’s probably why on 40 separate occasions the Bible comes down pretty hard on drunkenness or the abuse of alcohol. There are commands not to get drunk, or become addicted to alcohol. And there are lots of examples of people who let too much fermented barley or grapes royally screw up their lives. Chances are you know some such people yourself. Unfortunately, so do my in-laws.

But I think alcohol is just one more example of something created good, but tragically damaged and liable to cause harm. The world is full of such things.

Sex is another obvious one. God was on his A game when he thought that up. Seriously, there’s nothing as good as having sex with my wife. Nothing. But sex outside of marriage is behind so much pain and grief. Heartbreak, unwanted pregnancy, date rape, abortion, STDs, AIDS– talk about a good thing gone bad.

The most obvious example of a good thing gone wrong is me. Well, actually, let’s be honest: us. We are created in God’s image, able to be wise and moral and to enjoy and create happiness for ourselves and others, but we’re also broken and suffer the consequences of rebelling against or ignoring God. Every day our lofty origins and potential for good conflicts with our foolish decisions and regrettable actions. Just watch the news tonight. It’s story after story of a good thing gone bad.

The good news though, is that it won’t always be like this. God is going to remake the world. He’s going to restore it. In the New Testament it says,

“That's why I(Paul, the writer of this letter) don't think there's any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both the creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens. All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult time of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs."

That means that he’s going to remake the earth. Don’t ask me how. I’m guessing he’s going to clean up the mess, and maybe toy with the laws of physics. Who knows. But it will be good. And he’s also going to remake those of us who love him. We’ll be able to enjoy a new life, life like it was always supposed to be, uncorrupted by sin. Can you imagine being unselfish, free from addiction, and able to chose something higher and better than the urge of the moment? I can’t wait.

It’ll be, and I’ll be– and you can be too– a good thing, gone bad, made perfect again.

I’ll drink to that. Pass me the fermented drink.

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