If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people! Micah 2:11
When I went through medical training, nearly 20 years ago, we were taught to be quite liberal with opiate pain medications. Studies had supposedly shown that we were unlikely to contribute to addiction and the danger of opioids was dramatically downplayed.
I liked this message. As a developing addict, I appreciated the easy access and the decreased stigma. I fully embraced the preaching of liberal prescribing because it reinforced the path I was on. I don’t have a problem. I’m just taking a medication.
We often do this. We gravitate towards whatever voice supports our preferences and we avoid the voice that makes us feel guilty about our destructive behavior.
This was Micah’s message in today’s passage, in which he imagined a false preacher with a message of wine and beer. You won’t listen to me, but you would listen to anyone who preached the goodness of alcohol.
Some of you are thinking, I’d go to that church! Why don’t we hear more about the good life in church? Doesn’t God want us to enjoy life and be happy? The problem with beer church is not that beer is inherently evil. I know many who drink beer with no apparent ill effects. The problem with beer church, is that church is where we go to learn to pursue God, not ourselves. This, not incidentally, is the route to the true good life.
We can enjoy the pleasures of this world appropriately. The problem for us, is that once we find something pleasurable, we often overindulge, finding our joy, purpose, and meaning in that thing. It may be money, sex, food, pride, or beer. Whatever our thing is, we all have some behavior that we think is the route to happiness, but which actually distracts us from true joy. Beer church – or any pursuit other than God – only reinforces that destructive path.
If we want to know faith and recovery, we must often choose to listen, not to the comfortable voices, but to the voice of God, which is the one that leads to authentic life and joy.