“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” – Matthew 11:18-19
In this passage Jesus is rebuking those that have ignored or dismissed God by discrediting those He sent (John the Baptist and Jesus). Jesus points out that though He and John had very different lifestyles those that did not want to believe found something wrong with both.
John the Baptist lived off of locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4) and never drank alcohol (Luke 1:15). Jesus ate and drank in the homes of “tax collectors and sinners” and was accused of overindulging.
While the main point is that there are those that will deny God no matter how the messenger comes to them, there is another interesting point for us to consider.
Both John the Baptist and Jesus were living exactly the life that they were supposed to live. They were both living righteously and according to God’s plan, even though from the outside their lives looked very different.
I think as Christians we need to do a better job of recognizing that God may call different people to live in different ways and both can be just as honoring and faithful to God.
One Christian may feel called to abstain from all alcohol and avoid places that could effect their reputation, such as a bar or something of that nature. Another Christian might be burdened to go that same bar and have a drink with someone. If both are led by the Holy Spirit in what they are doing or not doing, then both are honoring God and can be used to reach people for Christ in different ways.
It is important to recognize that there are different ways of being “in the world, but not of it” and whichever way people lean, there are temptations that need to be addressed. Those that tend to abstain and be separate can lean towards legalism. Those that choose to partake and attend certain venues and events can be tempted towards drunkenness or any of the other sins around them more readily. Both can be tempted to look down on and judge the other.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us better love one another by seeking to truly understand each other’s hearts in these matters. The important thing is that we are rooted in the Word and following the Holy Spirit’s leading in each and every situation. We should be humble enough to recognize that we don’t have it all figured out and that God can lead to people to act differently in situations and both can be pleasing to Him.
As Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane before He is arrested He prays for His disciples:
“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” – John 17:14-19