Have you ever read the story of Jesus making wine at a wedding? In the story, a gentleman approached and said how surprised he was because people normally served the best wine at the beginning of the party and saved the cheap stuff for later on. But the wine Jesus made was so tasty that the gentleman exclaimed "but you have saved the best wine for last." Although some may say wine was not alcoholic back then, I'd say the cheap wine was normally saved till the end because those drinking the wine would be less likely to notice later on. If wine were not alcoholic then it would make no sense to warn against drunkenness or to proclaim, in the book of Proverbs, that "wine is a mocker and beer a brawler" but that's another argument for another time.
Anyway, years ago, I would not come within 10 feet of an alcoholic drink and I was very religious and judgmental about anyone who did so, if even casually. Prior to that, I was abusive with alcohol and it was all I could think about if I had any in the home. Today, I consider myself a mature and responsible drinker.
I was at a co-worker's birthday party yesterday. People at work know that I love the Lord and respect my walk with Him. I've been mature and responsible with alcohol for awhile now but having a beer among fellow workers was not something I had done before. I prayed "God, please help me get rid of any religiousness that will keep me from relaxing and, at the same time, help me not to put 'fitting in' over pleasing You." I didn't know how to act without my "religious blankie" of abstinence and judgmentalness to cling to while in this situation among others.
When they first saw a beer in my hand, they reacted with shock and joyful surprise. It sort of broke some kind of barrier there and it seemed that they felt closer to me and had an easier time relating to me on a casual and "real" level. Or, maybe it was just me feeling the effects of another religious, stuffy brick falling off the wall between myself and others. I didn't flirt with any women but I was friendly with everyone. I didn't crack crude or nasty jokes although I laughed and talked with those there.
Overall, I felt like it was a good night and another successful step towards letting go of religious obligation in favor of simply living for God among others in real relationship together.