Peter is a 19 year old man that I met last year, but only started spending time with last month. The good news is that he received the salvation Christ offers some two weeks ago.
It is as he sought to understand how to live the new life in Jesus that he asked me, “mzee (Swahili word for old man – a salutation I have accepted as I approach 50), there is something I’d like to let you know, now that I have accepted Jesus.” “Yes Peter.” I curiously quip. “You know I smoke weed. Do you think it is okay to do so when I am a Christian?”
If I was asked that question was some years ago, the answer would have been an outright, “NO” with capital N. “go home and burn every trace of the weed and never smoke it again.” But that time is passed now; so I was a little diplomatic, trying to hide my shock as much as possible. What has happened since to tamper my response?
Growing up in traditional conservative Christian environment, some of the gravest sins that one had to leave behind after conversion were smoking, and drinking. I carried that perspective with me even to adulthood. One can only imagine my surprise when one day in a new church I received an invite from the men’s group leader with a note to carry with me my smoking pipe. As you’d imagine the first time I could not get myself to go – reason being that it was to be hosted in a Brew & bistro joint I felt not comfortable with.
Later in the same church I started attending a men’s home bible study fellowship only to realize that not only was there beer drinking, but there was a bar counter at the backyard which meant a provision in the home had been made for that lifestyle in hosting guests.
I was later to encounter a very serious (from my evaluation) believer who had a smoking pipe as his signature image. One does ask, “what happened that softened my stand?” Did those things stop being sin, or were they not sinful in the first place? Or, maybe I was conforming to the culture?
This is what I think happened – I understood that it is not that one becomes righteous because they do not sin, it is that a righteous man does not sin.
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”. (1John 3:9)
“8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” (John 16:8)
This to me means that the first step is to receive a righteousness that is not of our works, but of Christ Jesus, our righteousness.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (1Cor 1:30)
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Cor 5:21)
It is then that the new born spirit receives the indwelling Lord and is convicted of the undesirable things in the life He has taken residence.
Back to our conversation with Peter. I thought of using the route of why he smokes, to which he answered that it gives him psyche to work.
I asked him to consider why those athletes that take steroids to enhance their performance are punished when they are discovered. Of course he was able to say that it is because they are cheating – the performance is not their real self. I stopped that line of reasoning there as food for thought.
Then I said to him that my opinion was that he should consider the approach of what the habit benefits him with, by asking himself, “what value is this habit to me?” From there he’s able to make a decision out of his own conclusions.”
““All things are lawful for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “All things are lawful for me”—but I will not be controlled by anything. NET (1Cor 6:12)”
By this time, he had become more open to share even how he started out of an influence from a friend, and the way it cost him a job as he acted like a mad person. Out of that he was also able to share how he desires to stop, but is unable. “Now, you have Jesus in you to help you – ask Him.”
Last time we were together two days ago he told me he had stopped smoking the weed 2 days earlier and the desire for it has gone completely.
I believe Peter was a Christian even when he smoked the weed, but not sure of its benefit to him. I praise Jesus for setting him free.
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. KJV (John 8:36)”
Let us walk in this awesome freedom Christ has secured for us!