Jesus Wants You to Party

Jesus Wants You to Party

by Casey Groff

There is an age-old debate and a common-day tension about being a partier and a Christian. I am here to clearly state that the two are not mutually exclusive, and Jesus’ life is our example for that.

Often in Christian culture, partying has negative connotations, and the general view is that we should avoid “those places of sin and temptation.” The opposite end of the spectrum consists of Christians who go to church and worship God there, but then head out on the weekend to “party” with—and in the same way as—their non-Christian friends.

The reality is that we need to change our view of partying by redefining the term altogether.

Redefining "Partying"

You may be wondering why this is important and relevant to your life, but I have conversations every week with students who are confronted with the party culture and have to choose whether to avoid it, become a part of it, or redefine it.

Parties and Partiers in the Bible

There are examples of parties and partiers throughout the Bible:

  • Levi and Jesus dining with the “lowest of the low” in society
  • Old Testament feasts (both the regular, prescribed ones and the occasional, extraordinarily lavish ones, like in Esther)
  • Great banquets and luxurious parties in parables about the kingdom of God and the prodigal son, to name only two
  • And my students always say, “Jesus partied—he turned water into wine, right?!”

It’s true, he did. Jesus showed that he valued the Middle Eastern culture of celebration when he turned water into wine to prevent the host from feeling embarrassed by running out of wine. Jesus didn't shut the banquet down; he helped out by keeping it going, with even better wine than before.

Jesus as the life of the party seems confusing, especially when you picture John Belushi wearing his “COLLEGE” t-shirt as the life of his frat party in Animal House. But why should you adapt and agree with mainstream culture’s view of partying? Partying as an act of worship was demonstrated in many Old Testament banquets, which the Lord commanded his people to hold in order to celebrate and remember the good things he had done for them.

A spirit of celebration outside of actual banquets or tangible parties is therefore important because Jesus commands Christians to live that way: free to party with a real reason to celebrate!

Drunk in a Different Way

Don’t get me wrong: This is not an excuse to drink excessively or engage in other aspects of partying that do not honor God. Rather, this biblical type of partying is a lifestyle marked by the supernatural joy that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection leave behind for you to live in and from.

In general, partying is a way to celebrate something in community or even just to have fun for no real reason at all. How much more should you, as a Christian, live every day celebrating because you have the best reason of all to celebrate—God’s unconditional love for you!

May your life be the same and your joy be as magnetic as the believers’ in Acts during Pentecost, when people mistook an outpouring of the Holy Spirit for drunkenness because they had no frame of reference for what they were witnessing. As a Christian, you are to be marked by supernatural joy and spirits of celebration, embracing each day as a party for Jesus.

So why again is this important? It’s not about going to parties and abstaining from everything while sitting in the corner with your arms crossed, judging everyone else; this in no way embodies the love of Christ for the lost. In fact, nothing about that posture will create any space for others to know Jesus. But someone in the same circumstances who is filled with the celebratory spirit Jesus desires can truly share Jesus in an authentic and powerful way.

It Can Be Done Today  

Here are two examples that can give you a good picture of how you can represent Jesus at parties through a spirit of celebration:

  1. Kristina Crosetto has stories about driving her sorority sisters to parties, dressing up for themed events, and dancing all night...alcohol-free. Her sisters were always stumped about why Kristina had more fun than them at every party and event, which opened the door for many late-night spiritual conversations.
  2. Pat Barbour (the guy from the videos in How do I talk about what God's doing in my life?) once saw his big brother in his fraternity drinking clear liquid from a cup at a party. He thought it was pure vodka, but it was actually water. That moment opened Pat’s eyes to a new way to party even before he knew Jesus!

Jesus encouraged a spirit of celebration and a life overflowing with joy from a heart of worship. That sounds like the true, nurturing, authentic life of the party to me!