Is God Drunk?

By Joel A. Hess

Have you ever made or received a drunk promise? Ridiculous promises you make at 1:00 am, when you’re feeling good, hanging with your buddies, after slamming down your third Manhattan. Promises like, “We’re going fishing at 5:00 am tomorrow!” or “You can have my car; I was gonna sell it anyways.” And of course, the famous, “I love you man!”

Observers of the first day of Pentecost accused the disciples of having enjoyed a little too much new wine. They humorously accused them of being drunk. The disciples were shouting about the wonderful works of God, fluently in the mother tongue of everyone listening. For sure, my fluency in German increases immensely after a couple of beers, and I even can dig out some French. Or more importantly, I feel like I can speak other languages. Perhaps I would have concluded the same thing had I been the recipient of the disciples’ spontaneous sermons.

It’s not really odd that some naysayers would accuse these Christians of being drunk. The world has always accused Christians of being drunk, or at least insane. That’s what the Greeks thought when they heard about this new religion that worshipped a God on a cross. And certainly, the world’s view of Jesus and His followers has not improved.

Yet, who should be calling whom drunk? Every time I turn on NPR in the morning I hear what would have sounded like drunken tales 15 years ago. People doing strange things to and with their bodies. A Muslim mad man killing 7 people in London. Kids being locked in cages while their parents smoke crack in the civilized and prosperous good ol’ US of A.

Surely as we look at our own lives, no matter how “Christian” we claim to be, God must think we are drunk considering the choices we make.

Of course, humanity isn’t drunk on wine. Humanity is drunk on sin which it first tasted in Eden. You gotta be drunk to make the choices we make! We are. Intoxicated with lust, greed, debauchery, hate and violence. We are wasted. We are literally out of our minds. That’s what sin does. It makes you stupid drunk.

But there ain’t no one that makes drunk promises like God. Yeah, I think that might be why some in that Acts 2 audience concluded the disciples were drunk. They were talking nonsense!

They were proclaiming the wonderful works of God, Luke says. What is more wonderful than God’s Son dying on the cross for sinners? That’s borderline crazy! Peter repeats the prophet Joel’s saying that now because of Jesus “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!”

You gotta be drunk to make those kinds of promises! That’s absolutely ridiculous! Everyone? That guy next door who is on the child molester watch list? That fellow who thought he was a woman for a couple of years and now isn’t sure who he is? That woman who had an abortion because she didn’t want a child to interfere with college? If they just call on the name of the Lord, they will be saved? Forgiven? Free ticket to the resurrection? That is truly insane. The Gospel is the ultimate drunk promise!

Yet, Jesus is the only one who can claim to be sober. He drank the cup of wrath meant for us. He died for our sins and rose again! Just as He said.

He now gives us new wine, indeed. For free! Forgiveness for hearts broken and busted by a drunken world and our drunken flesh. Drink up! Its’ no dream. It’s no drunk promise. It is for real.