The Most Common Objection to the Christian’s Need to Throw Parties
In Jeremiah 29, the people of God are given a distinct identity as exiles and sent ones who are to live in pursuit of the good of their city. As followers of Christ, we have been sent out as witnesses and must strive for the peace of our city and neighborhood.
The prophet Jeremiah gave the Jewish exiles an action plan for how they could live as sent ones in the midst of exile in Babylon. They were to 1) plant roots, 2) multiply, 3) pursue the good of their city, and 4) pray for their city (Jer 29:5-7).
Planting roots means establishing a presence in the city. Building houses and building gardens were long term projects. The people of God were to take an active role in the lives of the city around them. Instead of withdrawing from their city, God’s people were being called to engage the city.
As the people of God, we need to establish a presence in our city and neighborhood as well.
Here is just one way we can establish a presence in our city and neighborhood:
- Throw Parties – In his book, Community, Brad House writes, “Christians really need to repent of their inability to party.” As people who have been brought from death to life and have the promise of eternal life, we have more reason to party than anyone.
So throw a block party. Give out free food. Play some good music. Set up a cornhole tournament. Provide a space for your neighbors to get to know you and to actually have some fun. Become a known asset to your neighbors by serving them and their families in a really simple way.
This will make many of us uncomfortable. The idea of throwing a party with our neighbors gives many us nightmares. Many of us start to come up with reasons why we’re an exception to this call to throw parties.
The number of potential objections is endless, but there’s one that I have heard over and over. There’s one thing I have heard Christians say in reply to this call to throw parties more than anything else:
“But they’ll bring beer.”
This objection on the surface seems very wise and compelling. But it falls short on many levels. Here’s what I want to argue: In most situations, the fact that your neighbors might drink or want to drink if you invited them to a party should not stop you from throwing a party.
Consider 3 reasons you should still throw your neighbors a party even when they might bring beer:
1. You are called to be the missionary – not them. – If you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. Your neighbors, in many cases, do not. You are the one who has been sent out as someone who has been changed by the Gospel; they have not.
When missionaries go to another country, they have to present the unchanging Gospel in a way that fits their cultural context. They adopt the language and go meet the people where they are. They do not show up on foreign soil and start demanding that everyone they talk to immediately adopt their own personal cultural norms.
As a Christian, you have been sent by God to be a missionary to your neighborhood. You have been called to go meet people where they are at, to speak their language. You are the one who has been called to sacrifice your comforts, your preferences, your safety, your desires for the sake of the good of your neighbors.
Refusing to throw a party because of how your neighbors might act declares to your neighbors that you are not the one called to cross cultural borders. You are declaring that it is their job to sacrifice their comforts and customs to reach you. They have become the missionary while you sit back in comfort and wait for them to find you.
2. You want to paint a clear picture of the true Gospel. – When you live in the midst of a hostile city, you want to live in such a way that you point those around you to the true hope you have in Christ.
Refusing to throw a party because your neighbors might drink distorts the true Gospel.
The Gospel is that God has given you life with him only through his grace worked out by Jesus Christ in his life, death, and resurrection. You did not change your ways so that God would accept you. God accepted you so you could change.
But when you refuse to reach out to your neighbors because they might behave in ways you do not like, you are telling them a different story. You are telling them that you became a Christian because of how good you are.
You are telling them that they need to first change in order for you to accept them as neighbors. A better a picture of the Gospel would be to first accept them into your homes and then call them to the hope that is available in Jesus so they can have the power to change.
3. You are following the example of Jesus Himself. – Perhaps the best reason you should go ahead and still throw a party even if your neighbors might drink is the fact that it never stopped Jesus.
Jesus’ very first miracle happened at one big party where the alcohol had dried up (Jn 2). Jesus not only went to the wedding even though wine was being served, but he also pursued the good of his neighbors by turning the water into the best wine of the night.
The Bible says the Son of Man came to do three things: 1. to serve and not be served and give his life as a ransom for many (Mk 10:45), 2. to seek and save the lost (Lk 19:10), 3. to come eating and drinking (Mt 11:19).
In fact, the Son of Man came to do so much eating and drinking, the religious leaders and Pharisees called him a drunk and glutton, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. Among other things, this implies that Jesus hung out with sinful people even when they brought their beer. The “religious” couldn’t stand it. How could Jesus pollute his reputation like that?
He did it because he came to serve, he came to rescue, he came to give up his own life for others.
So when you throw a party even if your neighbors might behave in ways you don’t like, you are in good company. You are looking and living like Jesus. That’s a safe place to be.
So while the objection, “But they’ll bring beer,” sounds wise and compelling at first, it is not an objection that I believe excuses one from the need to serve our neighbors by throwing parties and inviting our neighbors in the midst of their brokenness to experience the hope we have in Christ as we pursue the good of our city and neighborhoods.
At the end of the day, we need to let go of excuses. Being a missionary is tough, risky, and uncomfortable. But we can enter that discomfort because of the comfort we have in our Savior who entered the discomforts of our world so that we could be right with God.
One note of clarification: As I said above, the possibility that your neighbors might drink should not stop you from throwing a party for your neighbors in most situations. This is not a universal truth. If you are under 21, you absolutely cannot throw a party where you invite and allow the presence of alcohol. As a believer you are called to follow the laws of your city. In your case refusing the presence of alcohol is what pursuing the good of your city looks like. Another example would be if you, someone in your family, or someone you are trying to reach personally struggles with alcoholism. If you know someone is battling addiction, you want to make sure that you are not putting them in a position to fall into temptation. As believers in Christ, we have freedom – not to a freedom to flaunt but a freedom to give up anything that might hinder a weaker brother who struggles with a specific sin. But all in all, in most situations, it is not appropriate in my opinion to forsake throwing a party for your neighbors just because you’re worried they might want to drink. As missionaries, we’re called to step into the darkness and live as a light that points to the hope we have in Christ – not to withdraw.