Sunday, December 30, 2012

Thus & Such, Vol. 15

In honor of the New Year's holiday, I decided to compile a short list of New Year's related articles and tidbits.

1. "Another year is passing away.  Thank God.  Not only for the massive amounts of unquantifiable grace we have received from him, but also because we are one year closer to the passing away of this partial age and all of its incumbent sorrow and weariness."  Take a look at what we can expect "when the perfect comes."

2. There are plenty of lists this time of year that detail numbers from the previous year.  Here's one that is less than typical, which is probably what makes it interesting.

3. "As this year ends, the question I am asking is: Where was God when so many good things happened this past year?"  This is one of the most fascinating articles I read during 2012, and it was only published a few days ago.  Most people ask, "Where is God when bad things happen?"  This article asks, "Where is God when good things happen?"  After all, we certainly don't deserve good things, so why does he allow them?  It's a very profitable thing to think through.

4. " we anticipate the coming of 2013 I want to write an open letter of sorts that focuses on the most important realities in the world.  And the addressee of my open letter is you."  Read this.

5. The Gospel Coalition recently published a list of their most widely read articles of 2012.  The number one article is the best treatment on homosexuality that I've ever read (and posted to several times on this site).  Check out the list.  Lots of good reading here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Keeping Christmas out of Christ

Around this time of year you tend to hear this phrase a lot: "Keep Christ in Christmas," or "Jesus is the reason for the season."  And a lot of people get upset about the "war" on Christmas, which is supposedly waged by secular society removing the phrase "Merry Christmas" from its collective vernacular and replacing it with "Happy holidays."  Christians become upset because they feel that the religious significance they have placed on the holiday is being removed, and that the religious significance of the holiday is slowly being choked out of our culture.  Whether this is true or not is beside the point for my purposes.

A few weeks ago our small group was talking about our favorite Christmas traditions.  One of the group members grew up in Papua New Guinea, where Christmas was celebrated minimally, if at all.  Those dutiful Christians would celebrate the holiday by worshiping together at a local church, and then the holiday was over.  No gifts, no tree, no music, no cookies or family get-togethers - just going to church to join with other believers in celebration of the miracle of God become man.  

This description of a "celebration" of Christmas really resonated with me, and it caused me to reflect on how our culture really and truly celebrates Christmas as a cultural holiday primarily, and how some segments of it do all they can to sprinkle a little Jesus on top.  And when enough Jesus isn't sprinkled to pacify what might be our feelings of religious guilt, we cry foul.  

Take this example: in November my wife and I considered ways to engage our children in the spiritual significance of Christmas this year.  We decided on a very cool Advent calendar that we would do each night with our kids, reading from the Bible, talking through the passage, and praying together.  This, we decided, was apparently enough to offset the overwhelming amount of materialistic and self-centered messages that our kids would receive.  After all, we wouldn't want them to think that Christmas was just about presents and food, would we?  WE HAD TO KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS!  What we were actually endeavoring to do was to offset the cultural influence of Christmas on our children with the spiritual significance of Christmas.  To be sure, it is a difficult struggle.

As I reflected on this, it seemed strange to me.  Why do we have to fight so hard to keep Christ in Christmas?  Shouldn't it be the other way around?  I would think that if we were observing the holiday rightly, we should have to work at keeping Christmas in Christ.  In other words, our focus during the Christmas season is on the cultural stuff of Christmas: trees, presents, food, family, etc.  Now, there's nothing wrong with these things to be sure.  It's just surprising to me that we think of Jesus after all of that stuff, and then we have to make special arrangements to fit Jesus in somewhere, such as making a point of going through a devotional Advent calendar each night.

Imagine that you lived in a culture that didn't celebrate Christmas - at least not in the American style of celebrating it.  You didn't have a Christmas tree, you didn't exchange gifts with anyone, and you didn't sing carols or bake cookies.  Would you really have to fight about keeping Christ in Christmas?  Would you have to go searching for the perfect Advent devotional to keep your kids engaged in the spiritual significance of the holiday?  Certainly not.  You wouldn't have to fight to keep Christ in Christmas, because he would already be in his rightful place.  If my kids never became accustomed to having a Christmas tree or presents, I wouldn't have to endeavor so hard to make sure that they remember the "reason for the season." 

I would like to suggest that the idea of "keeping Christ in Christmas" is painfully backwards.  What we need to do is keep Christmas out of Christ.  That is, we need to start and finish our Christmas celebrations and remembrances with Christ.  Any remembrance of Christmas that does not center on Christ then seems to me to be a matter of trying to balance the scales between spirituality and worldliness.

Am I saying it's bad to have a Christmas tree or presents?  No, I can't say that, because the base of our Christmas tree is currently chock full of presents, and I can't laud a standard that I don't follow.  I guess it's just something good to think about: how much of my Christmas celebration is culturally motivated, and how much is spiritually motivated?  

Is it possible to "do" Christmas in a way that is Christ-focused and Christ centered?  I think it is, but that's up to each family to decide, and we should definitely not go around judging people based on their level of cultural Christmas-anity.  

But from now on, I'm going to try to keep as much Christmas out of Christ as I possibly can.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Theology of Worship

After having developed a biblical set of guidelines for how Christians should regard dressing for church, the Worship Music and Arts Committee worked on developing a theology of worship that will help guide the church in planning and thinking about worship.  I'm very glad the church has gone this direction - that of finding out what the Bible says about particular topics and then conducting ourselves accordingly.  As I did with the dress code, I'd like to publish the Worship Music and Arts Committee's theology of worship here:

A Theology of Worship for Riverview Baptist Church
1. We believe our worship is reserved solely for God, and God alone (Psalm 29.2, 148.1-13, Romans 11.36, Revelation 19.10, 22.9,).  God is the subject and object of worship – it is about him and for him.  God is the only one worthy of our praise.  As the Creator God, he alone is deserving of the worship of his creation (Psalm 29.3-10, Revelation 4.11).  Therefore, we will focus on praising only the Lord in our worship and will offer up a suitable and appropriate sacrifice of praise to his name.  Our motivation for worship will be his pleasure, resulting in our own fulfillment and enjoyment. 

2. We believe that God’s glory and our celebration of it in worship should be the focus and goal of all life and ministry.  Worship is the primary purpose for which God created human beings and is therefore our highest endeavor and greatest fulfillment (1 Corinthians 10.31, Isaiah 43.6-7, Matthew 22.37, 1 Peter 4.11).  Therefore we will give worship careful focus and attention in the life of this church.  We will relate all of our activities to it and to the goal of magnifying the glory of God.

3. We believe that our worship is acceptable to God in and through Christ our High Priest.  We come to God clothed in his righteousness and by his worthiness (Hebrews 8.1-2, 10.19-22).  Therefore we will exalt Christ in our worship.  Moreover, we will not assume that our worship is made acceptable to God by any other means (such as excellence in worship or style of worship). 

4. We believe our worship is enabled, motivated, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  As God, the Holy Spirit deserves our adoration and praise as much as the Father and Son, yet he chooses to glorify not himself but rather point us to Christ and thus lead us to the Father in worship.  The Holy Spirit motivates us for worship in assuring us of our standing by grace and filling us for the work of praise (Philippians 3.3, John 16.14, Romans 8.14-17, 1 Corinthians 12.3, Ephesians 5.18-19).  Therefore, we will exalt Christ in our worship by the power of the Holy Spirit, and address our weaknesses by enlisting the Spirit’s help in enabling us to desire, pray to, and worship God.

5. We believe that worship is the privilege of all of God’s people.  Every individual plays a vital role in the corporate worship of the church (Psalm 79.13, 107.32, Romans 12.1, 15.5-6).  Therefore, we will encourage a whole-hearted participation in every way possible: by seeking to enhance the physical environment for worship through the use of artistic, seasonal, and orderly decorations; by carefully selecting music for worship so as to encourage participation while maintaining biblical and theological integrity; by encouraging participation in corporate prayer; by encouraging participation in the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis, etc.

6. We believe that the heart attitude of the worshiper in response to and participation in worship is of more importance than an external response and participation in worship (1 Samuel 16.7, Hosea 6.6, Mark 12.33).  Therefore the elements of our worship will aim at encouraging a response in the heart of the worshiper rather than being concerned with external responses to the form, style, or structure of worship.

7. We believe that worship should promote the unity and edification of the church.  The church is, by divine design, a diverse group of disparate, saved sinners who can be unified in the Spirit (Romans 15.5-6, Ephesians 4.1-6).  Therefore, we will exult in our diversity and seek to learn from one another various expressions of worship.  We will strive to keep the health of the whole body in mind when it comes to innovation or change in worship.  We will not seek to promote personal agendas or preferences in worship, but prayerfully and deliberately seek the good of the body as a whole.  We commit to considering one another’s needs before our own and to look beyond self to our corporate identity in Christ (Romans 12.10, Ephesians 5.19-21, Philippians 2.2-3, Colossians 3.12-17, Hebrews 10.23-25).

8. We believe that the word of God is the best means of knowing and being able to declare truths about God in worship (Psalm 138.2, 2 Peter 1.21).  God has revealed himself and his glorious deeds through inspired scripture (Psalm 56.4).  We respond to God’s self-revelation in his word in worship (Psalm 56.4, 138.2 150.2).  Therefore, we will hold the word of God as central in our worship.  That is, we will read the word publically, pray according to the word, hear the word preached, sing songs according to God’s revelation in scripture, be obedient to the word in the administration of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as acts of worship, be obedient to the word in receiving financial gifts as an act of worship, and allow the word of God to provide the context and motivation for our worship and to enrich and inform our worship.

9. We believe that there is freedom in style in worship.  We believe this for the following reasons: 1) God exists in a triune community – the ultimate expression of unity in diversity (Genesis 1.26, Mark 1.9-11).  2) The church is itself blended – it is composed of people from all races, nationalities, ages, backgrounds and temperaments (Galatians 3.28).  3) God loves diversity – this is seen in his works of creation and in the world of people he has made (Ephesians 5.18-19, Revelation 5.9-10, 7.9-10).  4) The New Testament does not prescribe a particular form or style for worship in the church.  This absence of detailed guidelines suggests that God allows for considerable freedom in worship style (John 4.23).  We further believe, however, that Christians are not to do that which God forbids in the name of worship or freedom (Deuteronomy 12.4, Exodus 20.4-6, 1 Corinthians 10.14-22).  Therefore, we commit to draw from a diversity of stylistic influences from within and outside the church while maintaining obedience to scripture.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thus & Such, Vol. 14

This installment of "Thus & Such" will have to do with the recent grade-school shooting in Connecticut.  I would encourage all people, Christian or otherwise, to shut off the news, open a Bible, and take a theological look at this situation, and all evil that happens in the world.  God is speaking through this occurrence, and we need to know what he is saying.  To help in that process, I submit the following articles.  I could try to write something of my own, but these folks - much smarter than I - have already penned some thoughts that are worth our consideration as we try to see God in this and all events in life.

1. How Does Jesus Come to Newtown?  "Mass murder is why Jesus came into the world the way he did."  

2. A Lesson for All from Newtown "Murdering a human being is an assault on God.  He made us in his own image.  Destroying an image usually means you hate the imaged.  Murdering God's human image-bearer is not just murder.  It's treason - treason against the Creator of the world."

3. How do We Respond?  "We shouldn't turn our heads from this atrocity, but square up our shoulders and look right at it with eyes wide open.  God's children are called to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn, and we do both with great hope in the promises of God.  It's tempting to want to avoid the horror of such an event, but I believe our Father wants us to see a glimpse of what he sees and feel - for a moment - what he feels.  He knows something about the loss of a child."

4. Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting "...we long for something to make sense, some order or rule or regulation that could prevent such tragedy.  And we would take that remedy to our hearts in an instant.  Oh, if only... We would cling to its promise of keeping children safe, especially children, innocent children now lost 12 days before Christmas.  Oh, if only there was something.  And we would still be left with the horrible truth that we cannot wish or govern away."  (Note: this is not a particularly Christian article, nor is its author a Christian, but the article makes a great point: there is no government regulation for human depravity.  There have already been many calls by those in political and social realms for reforms, laws, restrictions, etc. in order to prevent something like this in the future.  This is an impossibility.  No matter what happens, people will always be evil.  I believe this is an important thing to keep in view when considering events like this.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Thus & Such, Vol. 13

1. "...if God answers my prayer for my son to be a follower of Christ, people will hate him.  People will absolutely, unquestionably be repulsed by my son."  This quote from this very good article reminds me of a sermon delivered by Paul Washer where he told an auditorium of youth something to the effect of, "I don't want for you what your parents want for you.  They want cars, houses, and security.  I want you to go and die on the mission field."  I want my kids to be hated by the world.

2. What a good and easy way to share the gospel with people online?  Here you go.  It's the latest media effort by Living Waters.

3. Check out these cool Facebook timeline cover photos.  Some good stuff here that would make for a cool poster.

4. "I would say that if you don't believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you're really not in any meaningful sense a Christian."  Although Christopher Hitchens was an atheist and absolutely mocked and hated everything I am as a Christian, I liked him.  Why?  Because he was intellectually honest, and was willing to examine evidence and arguments in the conversation on faith.  This very interesting article details how he thought that if you were going to believe something, believe it.  Don't be squishy.  And don't pervert the historically held beliefs of a religion and still claim to identify with it.  In this sense, he and I are very much alike.  I wish he were still alive, primarily so he could have more time to repent and believe the gospel, but also because his intelligent thinking served to move the dialogue forward.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Gospel Story

I've posted before about Steve Saint and the accident he went through, and also some of the videos that he has released that have described his journey thus far.  I just saw this most recent video he released (below).  What a magnificent picture of the gospel.  In the video, Steve describes how at church one morning, since he was not able to stand and walk to the front of the church to receive communion, his son and Mincaye (his father's murderer, with whom he has reconciled) pushed him in his wheelchair to the front of the sanctuary to receive communion.  He says that it's a story that no one would believe unless it were true, and it is.  Why?  Only because of the power of the gospel.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

On Hiatus

It's been a few days since I've posted here, and its going to be a few more before I post again. My computer is pretty much dead and unusable, forcing a brief hiatus from posting until I can replace it (which may be a while, considering that I'm not necessarily overflowing with money at the moment). And writing blog posts on my iPhone is less than ideal, so I guess that means less blogging and more Angry Birds for me.

Friday, December 7, 2012

What's Going on with Billy Graham?

Towards the end of the most recent presidential election cycle, it was reported that Billy Graham had removed Mormonism from his website's cult directory.  This happened reportedly after Graham met privately with Mitt Romney, presumably for the purpose of securing Graham's nomination.  Knowing that Graham maintains sway over many evangelicals, it makes sense that Romney didn't want to be portrayed to them as being a member of a cult.  Thus the removal.  I posted briefly about this incident when it occurred.

Unfortunately (for the gospel) it turns out that the negative speculation surrounding this event was well founded, as this statement from Franklin Graham confirms that the motivation for the removal of Mormonism from their "cult page," and now the subsequent removal of the cult page altogether, is to not offend people or call them names.  Franklin Graham says that he can't see preaching the gospel and name calling (which is what he considers labeling certain beliefs and people as "cults") going together.  He has therefore removed the page.

Graham says, "If I want to win people to Christ, how can I call them names?"  Like what?  Mormon?  Is that derogatory?  No, it simply describes who the people are and the belief system they ascribe to.

Graham's website defined a cult as "any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith.  It is very important that we recognize cults and avoid any involvement with them.  Cults often teach some Christian truth mixed with error, which may be difficult to detect."

To be sure, religious groups classified as cults according to the definition above are not a part of orthodox Christianity, and therefore do not have any eternal, effectual, salvific value.  Or, in other words, they don't save.  Wouldn't you think it'd be important to have a clear idea of the identity of such groups?  I would.  But apparently Franklin Graham seems to think that such distinction amounts to "name calling."

Billy Graham's media representative chimed in by saying "Mr. Graham's calling is not to pass judgment, but to proclaim the biblical truth that Jesus is the only way to heaven, allowing every individual and group to fall along that plumb line."  What's ironic about this statement about a commitment to not judging people, and citing Jesus as the only exclusive way to God is, in and of itself, judgmental.

Moreover, the Bible is replete with instructions to call out those who do not preach and/or teach the truth, and to have nothing to do with them.  It even calls out false teachers by name at points.  Why?  Because these false teachers and false religions were leading people astray and into hell.  Isn't that worth calling a spade a spade?  Isn't that worth a potential offense?  I think it is.

But more than that, it must be understood that the gospel is, by its very nature, offensive.  You don't need to call anyone names or single anyone out.  The gospel does that all by itself, and it does it very well.  But still, Graham's media rep said that if Graham were to do or say something that would alienate an audience, he wouldn't be able to reach them.  In my opinion, the gospel itself alienates an audience.  In fact, the Bible tells us that it is foolishness to those who are perishing.  Of course it alienates!  Of course it divides!  That's what it is designed to do.  If the gospel is designed to offend the hard-hearted sinner, then any attempt to soften that offense is unwise and unloving.  To pretend that we have to repair bridges or water down the truth so as not to offend is anti-biblical.

The problem with what the Billy Graham folks have done is not so much a relational or PR problem, but a shift in understanding of the purpose and nature of the gospel.  Moreover, it's a bait and switch method of evangelism that seeks to befriend people and find commonality with them so as to win their friendship before giving them the hard news of repentance and faith.  It's dishonest.

God knows the great work that Billy Graham has done through his obedience to the Great Commission.  It's a shame to see his ministry lose its integrity.  But then how do we explain Franklin Graham?  He's also done some amazing work, which my own church just participated in through Operation Christmas Child.  Hopefully we can chalk this and other recent Billy Graham blunders to his old age.

John MacArthur aptly commented on the situation thusly: "We have no right to redefine salvation in our own terms in order to be popular or in order to be accepted.  True and historic Christianity has never been confused about what it means to be a Christian."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thus & Such, Vol. 12

1. "Despite biblical precedent, few Christians understand or practice Sabbath as a regular part of life, and consequently, neither do their children.  Christian parents bear the responsibility of teaching our children the value of rest, through our words and through our actions"  One of the trends we see in the church nowadays is that people are becoming increasingly busy in life.  Maybe not the smartest thing for families to do, according to this article, when it comes to physical and spiritual health.

2. What has Rob Bell been up to?  Part of me says, "Who cares?"  Although I suppose it's important to know where he is at all times.  It won't be long until he cooks up another batch of heresy for the church to devour.  Read about his life post "Love Wins" here.

3. " spite of our long history and tradition of tolerance, I am finding myself increasingly intolerant - specifically, of the theology and practice of many evangelical Christians."  This piece was referenced on Wretched Radio recently.  I've posted before about the irony of tolerance, and how the fact that people who embrace tolerance as the main tenet of their worldview yet fail to see this irony is mind-numbingly ignorant.  Well, maybe this is some good news?  Although it's certainly got plenty of bad news to go with it.  People are beginning to see the hypocrisy of tolerance.  That's good news.  The bad news is, they don't care.  Read the article, and prepare to have your head explode.

4. "Total depravity is a reality, both taught in Holy Scripture and experienced in life, with important implications not only for pagans but also for Christians.  Very often we think of this biblical doctrine in connection with those who are unregenerate, or with regard to Christians before their conversion, but we reflect less frequently on the depravity which still infects those who have been saved by grace and reborn of the Spirit."  Do Christians still sin?  To what degree?  Am I still just as bad of a sinner as I was before I was saved?  Good questions.  This article has some good answers.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Have a Beer with Jesus?

I was listening to the Wretched Podcast today, and they did one of their entertaining and provocative "Iron Criticizing Iron" segments.  The topic for this installment was whether or not the song "Beer with Jesus" gets a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

This segment on Wretched consists of Todd, Tony, usually David (the Chocolate Knox), and sometimes either Joey or Joel, talking about the theology of an issue.  Sometimes, as is the case in this instance, they'll talk about a pop culture issue, and determine whether or not it's theologically sound, something Christians should participate in, etc.

Like I said, this time they analyzed the song "Beer with Jesus," and talked among themselves about whether the song was profitable (in a spiritual way) or not.  Here's the song, and you can read the lyrics here.

If you read the lyrics or listen to the song, you'll find that 95% of the lyrics are good and sound.  The singer talks about asking Jesus some good questions, admits he's a sinner, and expresses a desire to grow in holiness.  Nothing wrong with that.  The crux of the song is the fact that he's having "a beer with Jesus."  Is Jesus someone with whom one could have a beer?

Before we get into what the guys on the show thought about the song, and what I think about the song, I think we need to affirm that drinking alcohol is not a sinful activity.  Alcohol is a morally neutral substance.  It is neither right nor wrong, bad nor good.  It can be used sinfully, and it can be used rightly (more on that in a minute).  A biblical case against alcohol as a substance cannot be soundly made, at least in my opinion.  But certainly when it comes to the misuse of alcohol, the Bible is full of all kinds of warnings and wisdom that we should take heed of.  All that to say that I don't think the song can be tossed out simply because it connects Jesus to beer.  Now onto Wretched's analysis.

One of the guys immediately gave the idea of having a beer with Jesus a thumbs down.  Again, not because of the beer, necessarily, but because he believed Jesus to be too high and holy to have any kind of beverage with.  That is, is Jesus really a buddy that I could have a beer with, or is he a high and holy God who sits at the right hand of the Father, the one to whom angels bow and cry, "Holy, holy, holy!"?

I think this is a good thought.  The resurrected Lord is certainly the Lord of holiness and transcendence.  He is higher than we can ever imagine.  He demands the respect and worship of all peoples, and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.  That doesn't sound like a drinking buddy to me.  On the other hand, however, there are ample scriptures that affirm Jesus' nearness.  That is, although he is indeed high and transcendent, he is also meek and lowly - able to come down to the lowest depth to rescue lost sinners.  After all, Jesus dined with tax collectors and sinners, and he called those who follow him his "friends."  No doubt he shared some wine with them and answered their questions.  Would he not do the same for me?  I think he would.  One of my favorite hymns is "No, Not One!" which states, "No friend like him is so high and holy; and yet no friend is so meek and lowly."  I think this is a good description, and presents the real dichotomy we face when thinking about how we relate to Jesus and vice versa.

Tony, the resident Lutheran on Wretched, gave the song a thumbs up.  He said the singer was asking genuine questions, was open and honest and humble, and that since beer is not inherently sinful, that Jesus would indeed have such a conversation and enjoy a beer with someone.

While I don't particularly find anything wrong with having a beer, and I think I can be persuaded from scripture that Jesus would come down to my level to "have a beer with me," I think I ultimately have to give the song a thumbs down.  The reason for this is the role that alcohol has come to play in our society.  As I said earlier, I don't think alcohol is inherently sinful in and of itself, but it must be recognized that the vast majority of alcohol use in our society is sinful.  That is, people in our country mostly abuse alcohol, or use it as an escape.  In fact, you could probably safely assert that alcohol has an overwhelmingly negative reputation in our society.  This is why I, although I don't think drinking is sinful, pretty much stay away from alcohol altogether.  I might imbibe once in a while, but my regular pattern of life is to leave it aside.

But why not partake if it's not sinful?  My reasoning is this: because of all the damage that alcohol has done to our society, and because of all the relationships it has played a part in ruining, and because of all the people in our society who continue to struggle with addiction to alcohol, I have chosen to not endorse it as a regular part of life.  Can you drink and not sin?  Of course!  But I would caution anyone who drinks to do so carefully.  Everything we do speaks to those around us.  I, for one, don't want to send a message that I either approve of or am indifferent to the massive detrimental effect alcohol has had on our society.  In my opinion, drinking alcohol can communicate that message, and that's something I don't want to be a part of.

That being said, I think I would not rule out the idea of Jesus having a beer with an unrepentant sinner who is under conviction and seeking truth.  In that case, alcohol might be a part of that person's context (maybe even sinfully), and so having a beer with Jesus might work.  But even then, if beer was a main part of a person's sinfulness and rebellion, would Jesus condescend to the level of participating with someone in something that is a sin issue for them?  I should think not.

This is why I ultimately give the idea of having "a beer with Jesus" a thumbs down.  In our context, I can't see Jesus having a beer simply because of all the damage beer has been responsible for.  In other contexts, however, where the damage of alcohol is less pervasive, and where the responsible use of it is more culturally acceptable, I think it would make sense.  That is, the idea of Jesus having a glass of wine with a French person singing is probably more acceptable than the idea of him having a beer with an American.  Why?  Because our cultures view alcohol differently.

Look at the lyrics again.  If you replaced "have a beer" with "take a walk" throughout the song, I'd have no problem with it, although the context of the song certainly wouldn't make sense (not too many jukeboxes out on nature paths).  But the concepts are the same: a humble sinner inquiring of the Lord.

Let's just leave the beer out of it.