Monday, November 17, 2008

Good Scotch and Fine Cigars

Last Thursday, I was invited by a client and friend to Cigar Night at a local country club. I gladly accepted. After several hours of smoking the same cigar that seemed to never expire and a few glasses of scotch that I couldn't dream to afford on my own, I decided it was time to get home and see my wife.

Now, this client was no stranger to my outspoken faith and Christian principles, yet he had no reservations in inviting me to cigar night. In fact, I don't think he was even surprised when I accepted. None the less, at the end of the evening, just before I left, he commented about my behavior in contrast to other Christians that he has encountered, or at least the impression they left on him, "You're a Christian, but you actually enjoy life!"

Wanting to be careful about what he may have been implying, I added, "Of course I do, but you know you won't catch me drunk or going out to strip clubs with you. I'll sip some whiskey and puff a cigar with the best of 'em."

"Oh, of course, of course... yeah I know that." He said almost apologetically. But before I left he invited me to a Christmas party at his house next month. How many legalistic and/or fundamentalist Christians have the rapport and trust of those outside our Christian bubbles like that? To hear the surprise in his voice as he commented on how I live my life like a normal person is really a commentary on the way the world views Christians in general.

Now, sure, we're called to be "holy" which means "set apart," but you have to ask yourself how characters like Levi (the tax collector) and Mary Magdalene (the former prostitute) were attracted to Christ and desired to be in his presence while Christ maintained perfect holiness. If caricatures like the SNL "church lady" played by Dana Carvey are really how the world views us, its no wonder adult conversions and evangelism are nearly extinct in the American church.

Many years ago, I taught a small men's group out of my home and one of the studies we most enjoyed was this book, "Too Christian, Too Pagan: How to love the world without falling for it." I can't honestly remember the specific theological positions of the author, Dick Staub, but in the context of the book it was somewhat irrelevant. His whole point was to help believers to see ways in which they can engage culture without sinning. We had quite a few great discussions that were very helpful for us as we grew in our walks. If for no other value, the book provides excellent fodder for discussion and debate.

So, how do we live in the world without being of the world? Was my glad acceptance of cigar smoke and ethanol disrespectful of my body as a temple? I think not. Moreover, I think the fact that our bodies are temples bears more significance than just a staunch position on personal hygiene and wellness. Shouldn't the Temple be there for all to see, not hidden behind the four walls of a church?


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