Can you “be holy” in a bar?

Can you “be holy” in a bar?


I walked into a bar the other day, and I stuck out like a sore thumb. It felt like everyone was staring at me, and they might have been. I was there for a friend’s party, just to chat, and then I needed to be on my way.

I don’t drink, I don’t really like hanging out with crowds of people, and I can barely afford to buy water. So I don’t frequent bars. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a good conversation with someone in a bar.

Actually, a bar might be the place where God can use your story to help someone else the most.

Today’s verses are 1 Peter 1:15-16.

But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

The concept of “being holy” has a bad reputation. Holiness has nothing to do with how you dress, and while how you speak may be an indication of where you are with the Lord, words can’t make you holy or unholy. Being holy is a heart attitude, the desire to base our lives and our thoughts on God instead of the world.

That sounds great in theory, but how can you be holy and still be relevant to those who don’t believe? When I walked into that bar, I wasn’t relevant to anyone because I was uncomfortable. I didn’t fit in. And nobody would have been willing to talk to me because I looked, acted, and spoke like a Church Person.

On the other hand, Christ-followers can focus on being relevant too much and leave being holy in the dust. If we don’t keep our eyes on what matters, relevance can easily become a religion itself, and the last thing the world needs is another religion.

Following Jesus is sometimes a balancing act. The Bible says the road is narrow, and maybe that’s because we’re walking a tightrope between Being Good and Being Bad. We keep our feet firmly planted on the rope, but we’re still able to reach both sides.

You can be a Christ-follower in a bar. You can walk in the world without choosing to compromise what the Bible says is right. That’s what Jesus did. He didn’t travel in the clean crowds. He went to the bars and talked to real people and never once compromised Himself.

Be in the world. Go to the dark places, the dirty places, the broken places, and don’t be afraid. Love people. Encourage them. Tell your God-story. Be real. Be honest about where you were before God found you.

Can you “be holy” in a bar? Absolutely. Jesus did it all the time, and if Jesus did it, we can too.

First posted as “The Road to Hell” on on January 10, 2011 

A.C. Williams

Amy Williams left a lucrative career in marketing to write novels about space cowboys, clumsy church secretaries, American samurai, and alternate dimensions. Along the way, she also discovered a passion for teaching other creative professionals how to use technology to make life easier. Through video instruction or one-on-one coaching, she teaches software, blogging, basic graphic design, and many other useful skills that help creative entrepreneurs get stuff done minus the frustration.

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