What can Christians learn from a bottle of Scotch? In the U.K., The makers of Scotch whisky have banded together to protect the standards of their industry. Too many cheap imitations have flooded the market, hurting their sales in the short term but also ruining the consensus of what Scotch whisky really is. New regulations will help better identify what is genuine Scotch whisky, and just as important: what is NOT Scotch whiskey.
So, what can Christians learn from a bottle of Scotch? Certainly they can identify with the dilemma shared by the makers of Scotch whisky. For the alchemists in their laboratories it is simple: Imposters, imitations, and the poor standards of others have hurt the reputation of genuine and high quality products. The finely crafted product that is true Scottish whisky is not known and appreciated due to the lousy knock offs on the market. Now consider hard working, people loving, followers of Jesus Christ. Cheap imitations of genuine Christianity exist today like a bottle of cheap booze. Turn on the television and one news station has a group of people with signs that read “God Hates Fags” and then change the channel to see an ordained minister explain why God wants you to donate to a particular political organization. The person of Jesus Christ is reduced to hate speech by one group and a campaign slogan of another.
How can Christians protect their brand name? Sometimes when I “let my light shine before men” I feel like I’m waving a flashlight around on a sunny day. I didn’t jump out of the womb as a follower of Jesus Christ; many of my old school friends and neighbors already wonder what in the world happened to me that I ended up in this direction! I find myself wondering “What if people see some of these idiots on television and think that is me?” I think that DOES happen to some degree. Folks are always going to have misconceptions of what I believe, based on misunderstandings, and sometimes even due to lame decisions I have made. However, not every generalization is something I can live with. Maybe it is worthwhile to think about what Christianity is NOT for just a moment.
A life lived following Christ is not a catchy jingle to sell a product. Somewhere since the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ and this afternoon, somebody got the idea of reducing Faith in Christ into something extremely easy, fast, and hours of fun for the whole family. The Gospel is the definition of Grace revealed through Jesus and the contrast between how Holy God is, and how much I am not. The problem? That generally doesn’t sell books or fill auditoriums so faith gets reduced into stuff we do rather than what we receive.
Then there is the whole ridiculous spiritual side of what we believe. We’re talking about a religion that involves a man who is also God being born from a virgin mother, performing miracles (like water into wine to keep with our booze theme), then being beaten and executed , with a climactic follow up of coming back to life. The very object of our faith is mostly illogical and unbelievable. Rather than trust God to reveal truth to whoever He wishes, we sell people a few catch phrases about how coming to church will help you become a better you, and how being a Christian will help you have your best life now (tell that to Christians in Iran). When faith in Jesus is portrayed as easy and pretty, it is probably a cheap imitation. To drink from our metaphor again, think about a bottle of Dom Perignon at a nice restaurant next to a bottle of Boone’s Farm from the gas station. People who aren’t Christians already know how abstract our beliefs can seem. Hiding some of them to offer a watered down “faith” to gain “converts” is just plain silly. You get consumers of a mass produced cheaply made product, not believers. Think Wal-Mart rollback special rather than an expensive Neiman-Marcus shopping spree. The thing about consumers: when they find what they want cheaper and faster, they go after it. Man that just isn’t Christianity.
Jesus Christ did not let people use Him for political gain so why in the world do we? Seriously in the 2008 US Presidential election I had to endure seminary grads arguing against each other about which candidate God was supporting. The message of the Gospel brings the redemptive power of God to all humanity. Jesus has a greater message than tax rates, building border fences, and who we should drop bombs on next. The message of Christ reveals that we all need a savior. Jesus isn’t running on a campaign of what He will do for you if you support Him. He is about what He’s done to defeat the power that distorted the very nature of our existence. Nothing screams “Fraud!” like a guy listing a bunch of things he’ll do for you if you just agree to choose him over someone else for a job. I’ve heard Jesus described this way!
And Finally, Jesus Christ didn’t get excited to see people fail like some other people do. It bothers me when I see people crowding the umbrella of Christianity while rejoicing in the misfortune of others. Can you imagine if in John 4, Jesus called the woman He met at the well in Samaria a skank and told her to find another well to get her water from? How about if in Matthew 14 Jesus calls the 5000 people who came to see Him fools for not bringing their lunch? And did we see Jesus happy in Luke 23 to see two other guys crucified next to him? A religious system that is happy to see others hit rock bottom or worse is far from Christian. The same is true with people.
So what does this have to do with Scotch? My response is another question: “What do you have to do with Jesus? Does your life reflect a high end single malt scotch or a cheap 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor? What brand do you represent? Is your faith high end or cheap and watered down? Are you a consumer of the least costly knock off brand? Whatever you’re drinking, I hope it is the real thing! Would hate to see anyone settle for a cheap imitation and never taste the real stuff!