I Love Beer And Jesus

 

Every now and then, God throws something a pastor’s way to remind said pastor that the gospel is sinking in to the congregation that he serves. This happened to me recently, when a member of our church named Jeff Hays sent me a personal reflection — chiefly written for his children and his spiritually curious friends — about why Jesus and the Christian worldview make so much sense to him. I found Jeff’s reflection to be brilliant and plan to share it again and again with my spiritually curious friends. I find Jeff’s thoughts to be fiercely winsome while also being true to my own experience. Furthermore, I think the title he chose is supremely awesome. With Jeff’s permission, and with great respect for his refreshing honesty and compelling thoughtfulness, I also share them with you…


I LOVE BEER AND JESUS
By Jeff Hays

I really like beer and drink too much of it. I yell at my kids way too much. I love beautiful women and admire them too closely and too often. I am crude, blunt and often times my sense of humor is only funny to me (and that is really all I care about anyway). I am a control freak, can blame and be critical. I am cynical, can be grumpy and, more often than not, people annoy me. And last, but not least, I constantly judge everyone I come in contact with — weird hair, ugly, geek, bad clothes, loud mouth, bad parent, and those are just a sample of the kind of things that have crossed my mind walking through the airport this morning. The list goes on but I think I have hit the highlights.

On the more positive side, I am fairly generous. I eat healthy and exercise regularly. I am a pretty good husband because Leeann makes it so easy to be and I adore her. I am confident, organized and fairly intelligent in a common sense sort of way. I am aggressive, competitive, and a risk taker. I am loyal to my family and close friends and a secret is safe with me. I am a very involved father and husband. And finally, I have a deep faith in God, I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and while the negatives listed above may make it seem otherwise, I try to live my life for Him.

So Why Jesus?

The question is complicated as the information needed to address this question starts for me with ‘is there a God’ and ends with ‘when confronted with all of the religious options available, why do I side with Jesus?’

So, is there a God? I am not a scientist or a philosopher so I will not spend my time trying to prove creation over other alternatives. I will say that when I examine the evidence available and consider the alternative explanations of how this world began, a creator theory seems to hold as much possibility as anything else. I am not sure exactly what the creation looked liked, so I will leave the argument about big bangs or other ideas of the beginning to people smarter than me. To me, the important thing is that I believe that there is a creator and I have found no scientific evidence that would overturn that belief.

I will also admit that I have seen no scientific evidence that would completely convince me of a creator. What ultimately brings me down on the side of creation are some of the more subtle factors like the miracle of childbirth, a beautiful sunset, the mystery of the ocean or the vastness of the universe. The organized and deliberate nature of how this world works leaves me with a sense that there is someone pulling the strings. It seems too perfect and beautiful to be an accident. But what really pushes me over the edge of belief that there is a creator is something even more subtle. As I grow older I have realized that we all suffer from a bizarre empty place in our being. Something is just not right — we are missing something. Famous philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal described this hole in our heart when he said ‘What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.’ Consider the amount of alcohol we consume, food we eat, drugs we take, antidepressants we ingest, sex we crave and money we spend trying to feed the void. I have never completely filled my void and I have tried a lot of the void fillers I have mentioned above. The only time I have temporary relief from the void is when I am centered on God and serving others. When I am truly focused on God, my void diminishes and I feel unbelievably whole. Since nothing else has ever brought relief of the void, it leads me to believe that the void is a spiritual need — which ultimately leads me to a creator.

So if we have a creator, why Christianity? I told my wife a few months back that there are two groups of people in general that irritate me more than any other — rich people and Christians. This is ironic since my chosen profession centers around rich people and my chosen faith is Christianity. In the public square, some who claim to be Christians come across as hateful, self righteous, two-faced, hypocritical, conceited, closed minded idiots. From gay bashing to racism, Christians have often been at the forefront. On a more selfish level, my dislike of Christians may stem from the fact that I like to have fun and a lot of Christians seem like duds.

As I read the bible, Jesus’ life and behavior did not jive with the self righteous, hateful bores for which the modern day ‘Christian’ is known. Jesus not only made himself accessible to everyone but he went out of his way to associate with those that society shunned like the non-religious, the adulteresses, the sick, the poor. That doesn’t sound like the ‘religious right’ does it? Jesus didn’t judge or shame, Jesus loved. His greatest two commands are ‘Love God’ and ‘Love your neighbor.’ Conspicuously absent are commands like avoid gay people or be divisive political activists. And I think it is safe to say that His life was anything but boring.

Ironically, many of the Christians I know humbly model their lives after Jesus. They care for people and put others above themselves. Whether going to areas recently struck by disaster to deliver aid, traveling internationally to areas filled with disease or working in their local communities serving the needy and unwanted – their lives are anything but boring. Unfortunately, these Christians are not typically the ones making headlines so the stereotype of a self righteous, hateful Christian lives on and continues to mute the message of our loving, accepting Savior. And just like any stereotype, the few taint our view of the whole. By the way, this is true about rich people too.

So why do I identify with a religion that often irritates me? The reason — my mama told me to. At least that was it initially. But eventually I had to determine how to fill my spiritual void and ultimately I landed not on religion, but on Jesus. Which finally leads me back to my original question — Why Jesus?

Jesus is the most written about, recognized figure in history. Almost every religion recognizes Jesus as a God or a great man or a prophet. Even our calendar is divided based upon Jesus’ birth. The real question is not if he existed but rather are the claims made about Jesus in the Bible true. Is He Lord and Savior?

The following are a few of the reasons I believe Jesus is Lord:

  • Why would a man claim to be God? The typical answer would be for power, fame or money. Jesus ran from these. Instead he was poor, hated and ultimately humiliated and killed for these claims.
  • If someone was going to create a persona for people to follow, Jesus is the farthest thing from what one would choose. A poor kid from a single mom that has absolutely no social status is the person you lift up as God? It makes no sense, yet his story has affected the lives of billions of people.
  • Intellectuals much smarter than me have examined the evidence and come to the conclusion that Jesus is Lord. Simon Greenleaf was a Harvard professor that contributed extensively to the establishment of Harvard Law School. His book, ‘Treatise on the Law of Evidence,’ still serves as a basis for the rules of evidence of our legal system. Greenleaf tried to disprove Jesus’ resurrection using evidence and as a result of his inability to do so, converted from atheist to a follower of Christ. C.S. Lewis, an Oxford and Cambridge professor also turned from atheist to believer. Christians founded the majority of the Ivy League schools. Many other brilliant scientists and professors have been and are believers. The acceptance of Christ by so many intellectual giants gives me the confidence to believe in Jesus without feeling like I have to ‘check my brain at the door.’
  • 11 of Jesus’ 12 apostles died a Martyr’s death spreading the word of Jesus. Why would anyone give their own life unless they had seen the resurrected Jesus? Who would die to perpetuate something that, as eyewitnesses, they would have known was a lie?
  • Jesus’ message is based upon total unselfishness and humility. This message can only be a message from God because every married woman knows that these two traits are impossible for men. There is no way that a human could have inspired the Bible. The basic premise is other worldly.
  • The accuracy of prophesy in the Old Testament written several hundred years prior to Jesus is incredible. Over the years I have had the opportunity to learn about the OT from someone I consider to be a biblical scholar. I am blown away by the consistency of the Old Testament and how it points to Jesus. Once you crack the OT code, you see Jesus everywhere.
  • Finally, it comes down to faith. The Bible or theologians cannot answer all of the questions. At some point, I have to take a leap of faith. This does not make me stupid or uneducated. Can I unequivocally state that God created man or that Jesus existed? Can an atheist unequivocally state that life started as an amoeba in a pond of water or that Julius Caesar existed? Atheists and Christians alike have an element of faith involved when establishing their belief system. Every theory, whether theological or scientific requires that we accept some unknowns as truths before we can believe.

These are compelling arguments that have helped me land on Jesus as my Savior. Unfortunately, I believe many in this world that are exposed to these same truths, that could come to the same conclusion, decide not accept Jesus as Savior because of two common misperceptions. The first and biggest inhibitor is the stereotypical Christian (see description above). Who in their right mind would want to be associated with that group? The second issue is ‘The Rules.’ There is a perception that if you are a Christian you have to follow ridiculous rules. As I intellectually consider some of the more disliked biblical principles that discourage sex before marriage or getting drunk, it does seem like the cons of participating in these behaviors pretty heavily outweighs the pros. We could all do without hangovers, discussion with our spouses about former girlfriends, money troubles, vengeful relationship, etc. in our lives. Is it possible that our creator knows what will bring us happiness or help us avoid hardship and that could be the focus of these principles? Could helping someone less fortunate or doing something for someone else be more fulfilling that hammering back beers or hooking up with a stranger? My mind and the commercials on TV tell me ‘NO,’ but if I look back to the times in my life when I was most content, it was not the morning after a great party, it was when I gave of myself to someone in need.

Admittedly, I am a better preacher than a practitioner which is why I started out this narrative with who I am. I have issues. I make a ton of mistakes because I am brainwashed daily by the same messages and conventional wisdom that everyone else is. But for brief moments, there are times when I actually use my ‘fairly intelligent in a common sense sort of way’ brain and it seems so ridiculously simple — Love God and Love My neighbor equals peace and contentment. And yet, that moment of brilliance quickly fades and I am back to chasing ‘happiness.’ Luckily for me, in spite of my stupidity and complete inability to follow ‘the rules,’ I am ultimately saved because of the grace and love extended to me by my Lord.

What if I am wrong? Well, if it is another religion that offers the way to eternal salvation or damnation, I am toast regardless. Unlike Christianity that offers the free gift of salvation to any race, color or creed that believes, most religions require that you earn salvation through good works, and I am way too much of a screw up to make the cut. But what if I am wrong about God and Jesus and the truth is that there really is no creator? How does that play out in my life? The way I see it, I will ‘waste my time’ serving a non-existent God whose fake philosophy is based on love. A non-existent God whose fake book tells me that my life should be about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. A God whose principles will make me a better man, husband, father, and friend, regardless of whether or not He is real. I also get to believe that at my death I have an eternal life in paradise. The bible says it best when it says in I Corinthians ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For me, there is no fear in death, but even more amazing, having this eternal backstop allows me to live with no fear in life! But He is real and I challenge anyone with doubts to do what me and my fellow intellectual giant (J/K!), Simon Greenleaf have done which is to explore the question. You have nothing to lose and literally everything to gain!


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Showing 39 comments
  • MaryAnna
    Reply

    Hi… I’m only leaving this comment because the first couple sentences paralysed me emotionally. The part about loving beautiful women. I opened this letter through my email this morning. Interested in the title because I’ve often found the catchphrase ‘Jesus + coffee = everything’ kind of well silly to say the least, but also kind of sacrilegious (for lack of a better word). I’m not going to judge it, I’m just going to tell you how it dug into the very heart of my pain. How much I wish the whole male/female attraction thing could be different, how much pain it has brought to my life. Your comment made me want to cover my skin. It made me feel bad for your wife (I’m not saying I actually should just my initial reaction). How I wish men would see women not as attractive objects but simply as people. How I wish as believers, we actually had the evidence of being different. Because time and time again, I hear of infidelity, pornography, lust, etc in the church, in Christ followers and I wish it didn’t (and this is part of my lack of evidence) but it destroys me and cuts me down to the core of being a woman. I understand, woman ARE beautiful creatures. And God made us this way, but we were also made to be honoured. And I don’t think women are right now. So we have to be careful with the the words we use and not only that but the thoughts we think. And take every thought captive and actually let Him change us, so we can actually be the light. Instead of just talking about the light.

    Please don’t see this as an attack on you, this is the pain of my heart speaking.
    But, maybe that is your evidence, maybe without Him your eyes would linger longer, your thoughts turn away from just the beauty. Maybe your thoughts would become actions. I don’t know. I just know that as a woman it hurts my heart so much. I want to believe that if I marry, a man could be faithful to me, honour me, but I see less and less evidence of it. And as catchy as it is, beer and Jesus, Jesus and coffee, they just aren’t in the same category of love. Cause I really like coffee, but it’s also a rather strong stimulant drug and that’s probably why…

    • Cynthia
      Reply

      You have to understand this a man being honest about his sin…about his freshly desire that is at times so difficult to control. Sexual attraction is a natural thing that does not just go away and cannot just be turned into honor for the opposite sex. It is something you have to put to death day after day. It is something you have to acknowledge and that is what he is doing here. He was admitting it because it is a part he hates about himself. And that is the same for every sin and how the Christian should view it. If you think every Christian man is going to perfectly honor woman and look at them in pure ways 100% of the time, you are sadly mistaken. I am a woman and the same goes for us. It is a battle everyday; it’s a battle that Jesus has already won over for us with his blood. So there is no shame and no condemnation, but that is what you just did to this honest man.

    • Kim
      Reply

      I feel your pain too and while I do see the reality of his comments and the brutal honesty, it cuts deep in the women who have been hurt by lust (& those acting on it) …. I guess we can hope in the Lord that He is working in men’s lives by praying for them (which is easy to write but hard when past hurts are strong). It is difficult to always be reminded if this and the damage it has caused so many. I just wanted to say I understand what you wrote but I also like the author’s complete story. Sadly it seems that it is always around us (ads, tv, movies and reality). A constant chipping at us and one that makes me consistently lean on my Lord to hold me in my pain.

  • Jessica
    Reply

    Wow. This is a fantastic post. Much food for thought. So well written. Thank you, Jeff! And thank you for sharing, Scott.

  • Joe Siok
    Reply

    This is a really well done perspective on Christianity and reality – thank you for sharing this – made my day. Also validated many of the same considerations I have had. Love it!

  • Edgeworth Georgia Thomas
    Reply

    Wow!!!

  • chris nischan
    Reply

    Wow! This is the best way to say what I feel and think. I am not often blown away by something someone else says. I am not a gifted writer but this is spot on. I will save this and read it many times. I will also share with others. Thank you for putting words to something I believe.

  • Cindy
    Reply

    The satisfaction of good days past and the hope of eternity with Jesus makes all the stress/strife/problems of today fade to gray. I choose to be thankful for right now, whatever is going on, where ever I am in the knowledge that Jesus is with me through it all!

  • Julia Tivitt
    Reply

    Excellent blog, but maybe Blase Paschal is quoting St. Augustine as he wrote in his book Confessions written in the year AD 397 –

  • Stephanie Griffin
    Reply

    Brilliantly written, experienced, & shared! Thank you for writing the daily battle we all experience! So thankful for a God who pursues us!!
    Stephanie

  • Larry foster
    Reply

    WOW! Tremendous amount of wisdom in this treatise. Larry

  • Karl Ingersoll
    Reply

    Awesome 😎

  • Lorne MacDonald
    Reply

    Amen Brother!

  • Betsy Ridout
    Reply

    Very nice. I appreciate Steve Snow for sharing this with me, and I appreciate this fresh perspective on my faith. Sometimes we need to be reminded of what we already know. This piece is a rare perspective much like my own. Thank you for showing me that I am not alone in my own weird walk as a Christian.

  • Mike Banas
    Reply

    Fantastic blog. This will be used to impact many lives! Thanks for posting.

  • Lauren
    Reply

    Great post! God is real, and I have learned that he reaches out to every individual in different ways. I won’t leave a long comment here, but short and sweet…

    I did not grow up in a religious or spiritual household. Mom is Jewish, Dad is Catholic, brother is atheist, and I, baptized as a nondenominational Christian. Didn’t know what baptism was or what being saved meant. God reached out to me through spiritual war fare and, after a night of deep prayer and tears, I woke up to an undescribable bright angel-like figure watching over me. That’s when I knew I had been saved.

    God Bless!

  • John
    Reply

    A very good read. I enjoyed it immensely and identified with much of it. I’m always perplexed with the labeling of Christians as “hypocrites ” as though there is an apology required for an unfinished product. As for the gay judgment I’ve been a Christian for 40 years and I’ve Never heard a Christian ( in my travels) condemn or judge them.
    The read was still great I loved it!😃

  • Linda berg
    Reply

    Wow. Just wow! I wanna move to Nashville and go to this church, if this article is any sampling of the attitude there. Thanks for this!!!!!

  • Stanley Garland
    Reply

    Great blog i enjoyed it, Just fyi, the word “principals” should be principles in the last paragraph. I am bookmarking your blog so I can read future articles. thanks.

  • Carla Vornheder
    Reply

    I disagree with just a tiny bit of what you say. I believe that love and obedience to the rules are the same. I believe that we are called to obey, because obedience and submission teach us what love really is. But, this thing on which we disagree is a small thing. I also find myself irritated with my fellow Christians. It’s so much easier to judge each other than to humbly recognize our own confusion as we try to follow a 2000-year-old faith.

  • Kevin Yeckley
    Reply

    This is an amazing essay! The reasons for believing in Jesus and choosing Jesus as depicted through The Holy Bible, the Ten (10) Commandments and all of the teachings of The Bible brings inner peace and contentment, love going out to others and from others back to you, and of course the REAL PROMISE OF ETERNAL SALVATION IN HEAVEN.

  • Isaca
    Reply

    I have to say, presenting the Gospel message with this simple eloquence is amazing. Thank you for sharing and writing down your thoughts in this manner… Lord bless you always brother.

  • Robert Watts
    Reply

    Maybe the most lucid, honest, straight forward analysis of Believers struggles I have ever read. I purposely used the term Believer because the key to it all is to be a Believer. Many who join the Christian club do not behave in a manner Jesus would behave nor express a view of life Believers can endorse.

  • Charlotte
    Reply

    Following Jesus is indeed different than following today’s religions.

  • Nancy Miller
    Reply

    This is awesome!! I agree Christians often seem pretty awful, and too often ARE really awful! But most of us r really trying, just too often failing miserably! We will keep trying over and over, and praying continuously! And please try to give us a tiny bit of encouragement for the occasional times we get it right, all due to our Lord and loving, forgiving Savior Jesus Christ!! Praise God!!!

  • Grant D. O'Dell
    Reply

    Keep on posting this kind of thing and people will believe.

  • Phyllis
    Reply

    Very interesting. Food for thought

  • Shawn
    Reply

    Awesome Brother!

  • Joan Dawson Huhn
    Reply

    What a logical, reasonable, HONEST essay. Thank you.

  • Erik frank
    Reply

    On point Love it

  • Tina Johnson
    Reply

    Great read! Thx for sharing. I would like to add to that with my own walk of salvation. The more I seek Him the more my desires become his desires. As I spend time in the word and in prayer or in my quiet time the world gets dimmer and His kingdom gets brighter. God is magnificent and stunning. He has healed my broken heart and is slowly changing me into his likeness as I learn to submit to His will. His will is leading me into my purpose for His destiny he ordained before I was in my mothers womb. As God reveals himself to me I am growing maturing in Him. I understand that I am the righteousness of God in Christ. That I am hidden in Christ because I believe and receive. Nothing can separate us from his love. That is the good news. And as I grow in Him he makes me whole. It is a process for sure. He is changing me from the inside out. Praise God our Rock and our Redeemer!

    • Teri
      Reply

      Love what you said Tina 😊😊

  • Cindy Rodinos
    Reply

    Very well written and the truth!!!

  • Chris
    Reply

    I love this and I’m sharing it with everyone. Thanks for taking the time to write it!

  • Suzanne Brown
    Reply

    Fantastic realistic ‘summary’ of the struggles we face ss christians but yet confident in the assurance of what Christ has done for us. Superb. Will be sharing this hoping my christian friends are encouraged and my non christian friends are challenged. Thank you.

  • Harry Cullen
    Reply

    This is the most fantastic missive that I have ever read ,I have always had a conflict with things that I have done but the forgiveness of our Lord has been a comfort to me ,I truly believe in people and giving to them support and help such as it is ,and if that is the love of God then Iam blessed

  • Cheri
    Reply

    So true! I pray that some unbeliever would read this come to know the love of Jesus and know that us Christians don’t think we are perfect. I myself know how messed up I am. I pray every day (well try to) that he would help me not mess up! I love this and will share it proudly.

  • Jana sikes
    Reply

    Very insightful. Sharing this. Thank you for sharing and writing this.

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