Let’s talk about something that Christian’s seem to have a really hard time discussing.
The 21st Birthday.
This is something I have had every intention of writing about, but decided to wait. I questioned my motives for waiting. “Just say it, Faith. Say what God has so fervently laid on your heart.”
So I did the opposite. I waited. I consciously lingered around the subject. I waited for my 21st birthday to come and go so I would not be held accountable for my actions on the very day that caused me so much anxiety.
Two years ago, I dreamed about the day I would turn twenty-one. I could not wait; it was obviously going to be the greatest day of my life. It was the day I got a free pass to drink as much as I wanted, party as hard as my body would let me, say whatever I wanted to say, and do whatever I was capable of doing.
After dedicating my life to Christ, these views changed… but not for the better.
Instead, I was filled with an unhealthy worry and tension for my 21st birthday. What the heck does a Christian do- especially in this crazy college culture? Do Christians get a free pass to do whatever they want? Or do I sit at home and watch a movie on my birthday?
“Is it normal to feel extreme anxiety for a BIRTHDAY? Do other people feel this way? Am I alone in feeling this way?”
Option B did not sound like an appealing offer. I sought out wise counsel from people who mentor me. Although they gave me the answers that I knew deep down in my heart, I buried it deeper.
And so my 21st birthday came and went.
“The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.” 1 Peter 4:7
I’m going to be real with you all. I had the farthest thing from sound judgement and sober spirit on my birthday. I was completely seduced by sin and took my “not-so-free” pass to do whatever I pleased. Feeling completely disqualified to show my face around my christian community ever again, I quickly began to fall into a false identity of unworthiness.
“I must do A, B, and C to get right with God again. I must prove myself before man that I am an honorable Christian. I must do (insert number) good works before Jesus will forgive me. I need to attend every Bible study this week that I can possibly go to.”
Jesus quickly tugged on my heart-strings and gave me jolting truth while studying His Word.
In Romans 6 and 7, Paul discusses how we are torn between the law and our sin. Sin has found a way to pervert the law and make is seem like a “forbidden fruit.” Although Paul is obviously talking about God’s law, the parallels to the earthly law regarding “the legal drinking age” is still applicable.
The “forbidden fruit” of drinking is finally broken when we turn twenty-one. But sin has creeped in and completely warped our thinking around this activity. The world tells us that drinking excessively is okay and totally normal. Despite the “normality” of this, we get condemned from our fellow peers for our actions from the activity they told us to participate in. Ironic. Why are we looking for this kind of approval from man if it will always disappoint us?
Paul says in Romans 6 that we are dead to sin, but are still required to fight it everyday. This is not an effortless action just because we are a Christian. In Romans 6:15-18, Paul talks about this struggle, “Because we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in His freedom!”
Paul goes more in-depth saying that our desires WILL be contrary to the Spirit. Excessively drinking, whether on your 21st birthday or not, is an act that will cause us not to walk in the full freedom that Christ has offered us.
Galatians 5:17 “The flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”
Whatever sin causes us anxiety, we need to be in an accountable state at all times. We need to constantly be resting in a state of sound judgement and a sober spirit. Sin will compete for our attention. The world will compete for our minds. We will be reminded after falling into this that it never sustains or satisfies. But we will also be reminded that Jesus loves us with no strings attached. Once we accept Christ as our Savior, we are constantly redeemed, loved, and worthy. There is an ongoing work in us; don’t let our short-fallings become our identity.