It is interesting. I used to serve drinks as a bartender for a catering business during my college days. I was unsure of my story’s direction, searching for purpose, and drifting between a half dozen colleges and degree plans. After I surrendered to the call of vocational ministry, I stopped working with the catering biz and decided to never serve any more alcohol. And now, at the hotel, there is a bar, and I have to explain this decision occasionally.
But in all my life, I have never, I repeat, never had anything alcoholic to drink (outside of NyQuil). This discussion here is not about whether alcohol should or should not be consumed – it is about letting something bring you under its influence. I have witnessed far too often too many people losing sound mindedness because they gave themselves over to the influence of alcohol.
Influence – I Peter 5 tells us to be sober-minded, watchful. Eph 5 says not to be drunk with strong wine – but to be filled with the Spirit. So, although we are not to allow alcohol have that level of influence on us, we are to let the Spirit have that level of influence. We are to be filled with the Spirit. What does that mean? It is an ongoing lifestyle of seeking and being influenced by the joy, the wisdom, the love of God’s almighty presence. I appreciate the words of John Piper – to be filled with the Spirit means to be caught into the joy that flows among the Holy Trinity and to love God the Father and God the Son with the very love with which they love each other. That joy, that love is all consuming.
But again, how? Let’s take a few illustrations to help understand it.
Some see it as a balloon where we let the Spirit fill us. We take in the air, the breath of God, and exhale His fruit and grace. The word for Spirit is the same as wind after all. Breathe In, Breathe Out.
Others see it as a gas tank. We go to church on Sundays, get our tanked filled, and we can drive around all week – praying we have enough gas to get us back to church the following Sunday.
But I see it more as sailing (disclaimer: I don’t sail, never sailed, and don’t watch the American Cup – But I do sing out loud when I hear Sailing by Chris Cross, Sail On by the Commodores, or Southern Cross by CS&Nash. So I am an amateur professional. I see being filled by the spirit like raising your sails and letting the wind direct you. The Holy Spirit is at work around us and we are to raise our sails, to trim them – which means to position them in such a way to maximize the work of the wind. We are to set our lives in such a way that it is His power, His direction, and His influence over everything we are, everything we do, and everywhere we go.
When you are under the influence of alcohol, it controls everything about you – you can not pick and choose sections of your life you want the alcohol to influence – it influences every part of you. And the Word says don’t let this happen, but let the Spirit be all consuming.
So, trim your sails through prayer, Bible reading, worship, praise, and all the disciplines. Set your life to respond to Him and His influence – that is the greatest influence anyone can let into their lives.
Tomorrow – Our influence on others.