One of my best friends, a youth pastor, has shared with me how one day he’d like to be a bartender. As someone who values conversation, he sees the occupation as a great opportunity to share his life with others. The maxim in vino veritas (in wine there is truth) is the operant idea here. Sometimes people won’t open up until they’ve consumed a little bit of “truth serum”.
Last Thursday, I had the chance to experience this theory. After my last philosophy of education course, some fellow students and I joined my teacher for some beer at the local brewery/restaurant Boundary Bay. Looking around the table, there were a few people who were mere Theists (mere belief in God with no corresponding moral doctrine), an liberal Atheist, a liberal Christian, a recovering ex-Mormon, and an agnostic. It was quite enjoyable. After all, talking about values in class is hard work…talking about them outside of class is fun!
As the night went on, about half our group left for home, and I was left with the recovering ex-Mormon (REM) and the agnostic. REM is a happily married mother of two. She was curious about my political/religious views and, in order to continue the enjoyable evening, offered to by the agnostic and me another beer.
You don’t turn someone down when she wants to know what your beliefs are and buys you beer as you explain. Plus, Boundary Bay beer is the best. I’ve been trying to get my youth pastor friend to come up sometime to enjoy it with me.
As much as I could while not turning the evening into a Billy Graham crusade, I tried to share my beliefs. I also wanted to learn more about theirs. Neither of them was particularly compelled to ask more that would lead to me sharing the gospel…so I didn’t push the matter. But they both came away probably knowing the importance of Christianity to me, and that it has a big impact on my life. The recovering ex-Mormon might even bring her family to my church.
It’s times like these when I wonder how some people dismiss alcohol as evil…and would never imagine enjoying it with others. None of us were drunk or even close. No one did anything stupid. All of our personal convictions were expressed, not compromised.
I’m reminded of Luke 7:13
“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
Sometimes condemnation is inevitable. But as someone who is ultimately accountable not to men, but to God, I make judgment calls like this not based on what others say – but on what is wise. The fruit of this method of evangelism has proven itself to me over and over: people get a clear picture of Christ and their need for him, whether or not they accept it for themselves.
There’s no reason to say drinking alcohol over dinner is the only true way of witnessing to others. You don’t even have to have alcohol. But you do have to show hospitality to people, and you do have to share the faith that is within you. To some extent, you have to be willing to understand people with whom you disagree and love them enough to enjoy their company for a little while. I encourage you to practice some form of hospitality toward both the believers and unbelievers in your life. If you place God first as you do it, you will be blessed.