We believe that God gives great gifts to mankind. This earth is filled with good things that are intended specifically for our enjoyment (the story of creation, the story of Noah and the covenant that God made with Noah all affirm this to be true). God intends for his people to enjoy his good gifts but not abuse his good gifts. Did you catch that? God wants you to enjoy his good gifts.
Now add to that the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and the promise of eternal life and eternal bliss that comes to those who have trusted in him! God has promised stuff far beyond what we could have ever earned or even hoped! If you are a Christian, you are the most blessed person in the history of the world.
One of the ways that we Christians reflect this undeserved generosity from God is that we celebrate. We want to have parties. So we have "Parties at the Park" (Downtown Traverse City), we have "Parties on the Hill" (here at church), we have "After Parties" (after church gatherings) and this summer we plan on having our first "Party at the Beach". We encourage our Community Groups to gather for block parties, BBQs, game nights, birthday parties, special sporting events and holidays. And we want to invite our friends, neighbors and co-workers to celebrate with us! We Christians have so much to celebrate and it is a very good thing for those who don’t know Jesus to see us celebrate. In the Bible, the people of God had a lot of parties and festivals that may have looked normal but they were rooted in God’s goodness to them. Jesus attended a lot of parties and dinners. We as both a gathered church and as a scattered church should be regular celebrators. We should have parties.
But this raises some questions, doesn't it? We know that instead of appropriately enjoying God's good gifts we are in great danger of abusing God's good gifts. Many of the parties in Jesus' day and in our day include both food and alcohol. Our culture has certainly felt the impact of the abuse of these. Drunkenness (the abuse of alcohol) has destroyed many people and families. Gluttony (the abuse of food) has destroyed the health and taken the life of far more than we realize (take some time to look into the devastation of obesity in America). So what are we to do?
Our answer is: party with purity.
So, we hold a position on alcohol that we believe is in line with the Scriptures: alcohol is a good gift from God (many passages in the Bible speak about wine as sign of God's blessing) but, like all gifts from God, it can be abused in significant and terrible ways. So we party with purity – drunkenness is abusing God’s gift of drink and we need to love each other enough to come alongside our brothers and sisters and bring it to their attention for their good.
We also hold a position on food that we believe is in line with the Scriptures: food is a good gift from God but, like all gifts from God, it can be abused in significant and deadly ways. So we party with purity – gluttony is abusing God’s gift of food and we need to love each other enough to come alongside our brothers and sisters and bring it to their attention for their good.
So as a church - both gathered and scattered, no matter where we are or who we are with - we want to be celebrators but we want to celebrate well. We want to party with purity.