27 December 2008

Scrooge Doesn't Remind Us Of A Changed Man

One of my favorite Christmas movies is "A Christmas Carol" and my favorite version is the one with George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. His portrayal of the miserable old miser is glorious.

In the end of this Dickens' classic, Scrooge is a reformed, changed man, with a promise for doing good with his life and money. Yet, when someone is called a Scrooge, there's only one of several meanings: nasty, stingy, joyless, dismal, heartless...what Ebenezer was for over 2/3 of the the tale.

Granted, this is merely an ageless fictional story (although some of the best stories spring forth from the truth of reality) but how often do we always remember a person for what they did much of their life or for one moment in their life?


A murderer is always a murderer, a hardened criminal with a reformed life is still a criminal, a child is always a parent's child even when they grow up, and so on.

How difficult it must've been for the townspeople who knew the blind and lame beggars all their lives to suddenly see these pitiful lives transformed by Jesus. After all, he's always been blind and he's always been lame. How do we treat them now?

Do you see the error in the thinking? The focus wasn't on the person receiving the miracle...but on the witnesses. We make it all about ourselves and not about the other person. Not about Jesus.

We are judgmental creatures.

I didn't grow up around alcohol. There wasn't any at my parents house nor did I drink with my friends. So, today I simply don't have a taste for it. I've sampled wines, beers, and liquor but it has little appeal to me.

Alcohol has been a stumbling point for some Christians, especially the Southern Baptist denomination. I'm seemingly hard-pressed to find many believers who don't drink at least socially. So, why is drinking a concern? Scriptures point to avoid drunkenness, not drinking. Ephesians 5:18 says: "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit" and 1 Corinthians 6:12 says: "'Everything is permissible for me'—but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible for me'—but I will not be mastered by anything."

So, there's legitimacy in avoiding drinking alcohol if you could consume too much and become drunk (nothing good comes from drunkenness) and if your drinking could cause someone else to stumble. Often, we don't care how much of something we consume...and we don't care how our actions impact someone else.

We are judgmental and selfish creatures.

The trouble also comes when someone is discovered drinking or having it in their fridge or pantries. Our mind's mold doesn't agree with what we're seeing and instead of praying for our own perception or attitude or simply talking to the person, we begin to tear them down internally or with other people. Perhaps, the person is struggling with alcohol for some reason but our mouth is engaged before our prayers for them.

All things in moderation? Perhaps. Ultimately, is your habit or vice (alcohol, smoking, gambling, food, porn, computer games, __fill in the blank__) destructive to your body or soul and could it stunt your spiritual growth or those around you? Often, when in doubt...don't.

So, what's the moral of this story? To drink or not to drink? No, that's entirely up to you and no one should judge you for your decision. The moral is that we should focus on other people's needs, wants, joy and pain. Don't let "things of life" get in the way of us getting to know someone. When we are outwardly focused, we can easily see someone's change and discern if it's for real. Just like those who witnessed the miracles of Jesus or Scrooge's transformation, they may have had their doubts and they may have refused to believe. However, if they took the focus off of themselves long enough, they'd see the reality of the change...and perhaps they, too, could be changed.