His name was…well, I guess it doesn’t really matter what his name was, now does it? It was three decades ago, in another city, in another state, in another life. I think we were on a job out of town, out in the flatlands of West Texas. After a long working day was done we would head to The Bar, where you could get great prime rib and cold beer.
Of course, my memory of the place and time could be off, but one thing remains vivid. Wherever we were, I wasn’t ‘keeping up.’ I can remember him smiling across the table at me as he said “C’mon Tom. Get drunk and be somebody.”
I’m sure it was just a good-natured, good-old-boy ribbing, and I took it as such. But for all that, it has stayed with me for about thirty years, and it has taken on new meaning for me as I have preached through Isaiah. Back then there were two or three ‘somebodies’ I was supposed to be, and somebody I wanted to be. I had long since turned God’s picture to the wall and, as Paul writes, I was “…without Christ…having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12) I was struggling to bring all those various ‘somebodies’ together, and it just wasn’t happening.
I was drunk, alright, but I wasn’t generally drunk on alcohol. Instead, I was heavy-hitting on the wine of the City of Man. That good old boy had me pegged, although he may not have known it. Yes, I wanted to be Somebody. I wanted to be Important, to be Respected, to have Money and lots of it. I wanted everything that life had to offer. Well…everything that that life had to offer.
I was a fool.
Get drunk and be somebody…it raises two questions. First, what are you drinking? In the context of the Scriptures, there are only two choices. Either you drink the vintage of the City of Man or you drink the new wine of the City of God. Second, what ‘somebody’ are you? If you’re drinking the wine of the City of Man, then you’re pretty much your own man. You’re going to worship somebody, and it’s either you or Christ.
If you’re drinking the new wine of the City of God, then Christ is the One you worship. He has bought you back from sin and death at a price you can’t comprehend. He puts names on you, name likes “redeemed, child, brother, slave.” The somebody you are is defined in Him, and by Holy Spirit you are being made more like Him, conformed to his image. (Romans 8:29)
I am still a fool. The foolishness of the City of Man was deeply embedded in my heart and mind. But I pray regularly for wisdom to drive out that foolishness, and the Scriptures tell me that the Giving God will give that to me liberally and without reproach. (James 1:5)
May I become more like Christ, and may those of you who are drinking the new wine of the City of God do the same.
We rejoice in the Lord…because we can.
Apologies to Toby Keith and Scotty Emerick…but this was in play long before they wrote the song. And I think their lyrics prove my point./THB