When appearances matter (or don’t they?)

Trying to refill the empty slots in the camp soda machine without having to order 20 cases from Pepsi was proving difficult last week. Finally, after calling a half-dozen wholesalers, I found a discount beverage company that stocked just enough at a price that was reasonable enough.

A few minutes later, having reached my destination I sat in the car, wondering how I could possibly think about forking over the Sacandaga Bible Conference credit card to a shop called something like Captain Beer Dude.

Pretty sure I didn’t know that was the name of the place I was calling. But when I realized my judgement error, I didn’t even get out of the car.

How could I explain myself if one of camp’s guests, sponsors or board members drove past me going into a discount beer shop on camp time? How could I explain the line on the credit card slip to the financial staff? How could I possibly not think of the potential damage to camp’s witness for those who have a problem with alcohol?

How could I, indeed?

I’ve been thinking about that.

Jesus hung out with tax collectors. Swindlers and defilers, too. To say nothing of sinners in general. Would he have had a problem dropping into The Beer Dude for a couple of bottles of root beer?

Probably not. But I doubt he’d have chosen to restock his dad’s soda machine there.

I’m reminded of the parable of the talents, where two servants made good use of their master’s money and saw it doubled, but another just buried it.

In whose hands is the money better off? I’m not sure there’s a right answer.

The Pepsi distributor also distributes beer — probably to The Beer Dude, in fact. We pick up incidental products at Price Chopper, which sells plenty of beer. We buy hundreds of gallons of milk a year at Stewart’s which sells plenty of beer and smokes. And I’ve never thought twice about it. Should I?

I really am OK with my decision to bypass The Beer Dude, if for no other reason that the appearance wouldn’t be the right testimony for a guy in a Sacandaga Bible Conference shirt and a Sac credit card. But it’s giving me food for thought for the next purchase.

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