Thursday, November 18, 2010

Peter Marshall and To Drink or not to Drink?

The Bible is not against drinking. The Bible only teaches to “not be drunk with wine which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” Eph.4:18. Jesus turned the water into wine. Some fundamentalists teach that the wine back then had little or no alcoholic content but then why would Paul have to say not to get drunk? But I chose to totally abstain from it so as not to put “a stumbling block or obstacle” (Rom.14:13) in anyone’s way especially because this has been a problem in both our families.

There’s a great sermon by Peter Marshall called, “Mr. Jones Meet The Master” which is also about drinking (at least it starts out that way). If you still don’t know who Peter Marshall is, let me tell you: He emigrated from Scotland in 1927. He studied here to become a minister (Presbyterian). His first pastorate was right here in Georgia! (Atlanta). Here he met Catherine; she was attending Agnes Scott College. At the age of 35 he became the pastor of the historic New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. (this was Lincoln’s church). He then later became chaplain of the Senate until his death from a heart attack at the age of 46. (1949). His wife Catherine Marshall (she wrote the book “Christy” which the TV series was based on) then became a writer: first editing his sermons (the book is called “Mr. Jones, Meet the Master” with that sermon in it, among others). Then writing the story of her husband’s life; “A Man Called Peter”. This is the book that I got from my parents many years ago, it had been my Grandma Hewitt’s. My grandmother was also Scottish and Presbyterian, of course. She died when I was 5 years old. I had seen this book on our bookshelf when I was a child and I thought it was a book about the apostle Peter. In 1999 I finally read this book which set off a chain reaction; I believe I’ve about read every thing Peter and Catherine ever wrote! (the nonfiction at least!) Bob even found me a copy of “Mr. Jones, Meet the Master” on E-bay which is signed by her!

Mr. Jones Meet the Master…
In this sermon (“Mr. Jones Meet the Master”) Peter Marshall starts out at a dinner in Washington “attended by many men prominent in government and business” and refers to himself in the 2nd person as “the minister” (I think it’s cool-I may try that some time- “Mom” that’s me!). “Mr. Jones-immediately to the minister’s left-was a big name in steel. He was-quite obviously-greatly enjoying the champagne.”. “And then, suddenly noticing the still untouched glass before the minister’s place- ‘Say, you haven’t touched yours…why not?’”

The minister asks him if he really wants to know, because it may take him a little while to answer, or if he was just making conversation. Mr. Jones says, “Say, now you do have my curiosity aroused. I’m asking because I’d really like to know. Everybody I know drinks. What objection could there possibly be to a little champagne?”

So the minister tells him of the “steady stream of people who need help” coming to his study at the church. He continues “Their lives are all messed up, and I guess you’d be surprised to know how often liquor is involved in the mess.” “They look at me across my desk, and calmly…usually these days, without any sense of guilt or conviction of sin at all…tell me things awful enough to rock a man on his heels.” He says he doesn’t have to delve very deep into any of these stories to find that liquor in some form has “aided and abetted this moral chaos.” “I believe it’s one of the most potent weapons the Devil has in America today.” “I can’t say it would be any sin for me to drink that glass of champagne. No, but I know I shall not be able to speak with authority on that whole question, unless I myself have absolutely refused to compromise. That’s the reason why I won’t touch it.” Later in the conversation Mr. Jones says, “Say, though, if you really think things in this country are that bad, what’s the answer?”

The minister answers; “There’s only one answer that I know of –God…People like you and me becoming personally acquainted with Him. When a man cultivates a personal relationship with the Chief, there’s no life too much of a mess for Him to straighten out-and keep straightened out-no problem He can’t handle.”

Mr. Jones replies, “I’m a hard-boiled sinner, parson, but somehow I’d like to hear more. How about having lunch with me sometime- say Tuesday?”.
“The minister pulled his little engagement calendar out of his breast pocket…
‘Tuesday?’… ‘Tuesday it is.’ So began a series of events that led a big business man to Christ-that utterly and completely changed his life.” Yes! I love it-that is how someone becomes a Christian! It’s not by getting baptized. It doesn’t come from us exploring other religions, although that’s perfectly O.K., one does not become a Christian until he is “born again” (John 3:5).