I wonder just how many people who smoke, drink, take pills, over eat, or have any other habit, enjoyment, or addiction believe that they can’t love God and God can’t love them. It has often been preached, in many different types of churches, that all these things are sins, moral sins, bumped right a long side of adultery, murder, stealing, lying. Yes, God does see all sin as equal, including attitudes of the heart like hate, malice, idolatry, but no one is judge over what sin is, or is not in someone else’s life. This is between each individual and God, only God knows where a person is mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
The bible is full of principles, values about living a wholesome, balanced, loving life. It would be micromanaging someone else’s faith to place blame or accusations that can cause worry, separations, condemnation and the alike on their own process of growth with God. When people tried to hurt others in this way, Jesus preached if any are without sin, cast the first stone (John 8) It is also said in Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
Of course we have people in our lives that give us support, mentor, and share the word with us, help us to connect with God, the bible, and with our personal struggles. It’s good to have friends that can look you in the eye and tell you when something is wrong. This is love, even if love is wrong or sometimes dangerous if it means losing popularity, or perhaps identity. This is fine and good, but people who believe in God also need to stop falling into narrow viewpoints because it hurts people more to feel rejected over such meaningless topics. Who is sinning then, the smoker? Or, the mature Christian who isn’t really that mature, or humble?
Everyone has different views. One thinks marijuana is healthier and safer than alcohol or prescription drugs. One thinks overeating is less harmful than alcohol or prescriptions. One thinks prescription drugs is better than marijuana. One thinks alcohol is better than prescriptions.One thinks prescriptions are better. One thinks church on Sunday is good enough, the other thinks three times a week is sufficient. One wants skirts to go to the ankles, the other looks contemporary pop. One is pro choice, one is not, one is gay, one is not, and this goes on endlessly about every imaginable topic. Living a surrendered Christian life is not based on superficialities. It is based on sharing a relationship with God. If God was based on these kinds of preferences, these shifting sands then how much more to every cultural difference, to every other state of understanding among people would these superficialities stretch. God is consent, not mere trifles of drink, smoke, pills, or food, or other.
1 Corinthians 10:23 “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive. We are free to eat, drink, smoke, use medicine, have political convictions, or not, live in the world, but not be of it, and not feel separated from God. What this scripture and it’s context enforces is that freedom brings limitations, brings balance and responsibility. Even though we might have a great relationship with Jesus and don’t feel an interference on bias based on relativities, if nothing waivers us one one or another, it might waver someone else who is just starting to believe, maybe even coming out of a drug addiction. So, be conscious and be considerate.
The organized church has no place judging someone who is on antidepressants, or if you see a therapist, smoke, drink, cuss, have tattoos, piercings, if your skirt is too short, if you look out the side of your head wrong. The church can choose to focus on itself. For example, the church often promotes unhealthy eating habits as food is interwoven with pretty much every church community event, enabling obesity. We are to break bread with one another and fellowship, and also to be good stewards of the body. In view of this, is is not a little dangerous to draw the line of sin for everyone around us by deeming what should be scrutinized and what should not?
One church differs on what they focus more severely on than the next. These include attitudes of all kinds and on issues like abortion, gay marriage, divorce, remarriage, current affairs, politics and there is not one that is right. All are considered to know in part, because knowledge is in part, all of us no matter what we believe will fall short of how God views things. 1 Corinthians 13:9. What we can know is Jesus, and a life lived in the Holy Spirit. Our focus is seeking God, not seeking out problems in other people.
There are alot of scriptures on being all things to all people. This means being aware of who and what is around us, and being sensitive to the present situations. This is about not being rigid to either extreme. If you go a visit a household and they offer you a beer, there is no harm in accepting it, or don’t but certainly don’t go into an hour lecture about Christian faith. At the same time, Romans and Corinthians talk about if something causes another to stumble then try to do something more like minded, so that it doesn’t bother or cause them problems. Thinking about how we affect others is loving our neighbor. This is being responsible and conscious of others well being even more than ourselves. This is a principle stronger than the use of substances.
If we are living in a faith in relationship with God, we acknowledge that we are sharing space with God within us, our bodies are is too, hence the temple. Naturally, living a balanced, healthy, wholly conscious lifestyle is not just popular in a biblical context, but also universally. It is good to incorporate science and faith. It is okay to acknowledge the great strengths and miracles of medicine and healthcare, and also those of faith. It is okay to love Jesus, but struggle with depression and anxiety, or any mental illness. It is okay if you like to drink or smoke and still love Jesus. No one condemns you. You don’t need to feel seperated. Just the opposite really, listen to the truth. You are not judged by me, and I am a Christian. I hope that counts for something.
The bible does in many places talk about not being a drunkard, about it not leading to loose sexuality, laziness, or enslavement. Taking the scripture in context means to accept that Jesus understands what it means to celebrate and keep in good health verses being addicted to a substance that has you chasing after it day and night. Rather, the scriptures encourage people to get drunk on the Holy Spirit instead of drugs and alcohol, to get their high from being filled with Jesus and happy. This is the source of fulfillment, not superficial means.
Anyone who thinks superficial engagements have a severe effect on our spirituality and relationship with Christ ought to reconsider. Ask yourself, if someone wants to smoke a pack a month, versus someone who smokes a pack a day, versus someone who doesn’t smoke at all who does God love more? God loves each person the same. Can each of these people be talking and having a deep relationship with God every day and following their calling, of course. Is it healthier to stop smoking entirely, yes. All these things can be true at the same time.
Consider how much the Tube is watched. I would consider watching five hours of TV every day far worse on my spiritual relationship with God and others than having a glass of wine with dinner. This being said, if I wanted to drink or smoke, dose heavy, or overeat out of addiction, habit, unhealthy feelings I would see it as problem, and seek correction. This is the same in everything. And yet, my brother or sister in Christ might feel differently about it and that is okay too.
This list could go on indefinitely on what is right, wrong, too much, too little, too quiet, too loud. and really the bottom line is these things don’t determine your spirituality. Nothing can separate you from God. If you are happy, if you are content, if you are depressed, alone, if you are overeating, undereating, if you are addicted to opioids or pills, if you are high, if you are happy, or if you are bitter and angry, reach out to Jesus and say hello. He’s right there for you and never let substances, or habits get in the way of what is really important; knowing God.