Hey, Calvary Fremont –
I’ve never met anyone who is proud of their addictions – Christian or non-Christian. I’ve never heard a Christian or a non-Christian boast about their bondage to pornography – about their irresistible draw to self-gratification behind closed doors, away from the eyes of their church, their friends, their wives, their children. They never brag about their growing disinterest in their wife and are not aware of her growing sorrow and shrinking self-worth. All their energy goes into sneaking into dark corners, consumed by lust, driven by the empty promises of a fulfillment that never materializes.
I’ve never known anyone who is proud of being conquered by alcohol. They may think themselves clever because they hide their alcohol where no one will find it – in the closet behind the clothes they never wear, or behind the trash can and the toilet brush under the bathroom sink. They may think themselves clever, but they don’t think that they are virtuous. And we don’t need more clever people, we need more virtuous ones. I’ve heard them praise alcohol, yet I’ve never heard them sing the praises of their bondage to that which has stripped them of money, jobs, marriages, families, and self-respect.
I’ve not known any who boast of their addiction to gambling and the utter despair they experience when they go home without the money necessary for basic upkeep. They don’t speak of the anger, despair, sorrow, and depression experienced by their spouses as they progressively lose more and more. Gambling has stripped them of money and home and relationships and self-respect.
I could mention addiction to drugs or money or bondage to the opinion of others. It’s the same story – no one advertises their weakness and failure and horrible judgment. There is no bragging about the erosion of their character and the loss of their self-respect. No one rejoices in their inability to break free. Addiction is mourned, grieved, and hated for it never delivers what it promises. Addiction is a toxic combination of physical, psychological, and spiritual bondage.
People hide their addictions. Why? Because of shame. And, believe it or not, that’s good. If you aren’t ashamed of the destruction you allowed into your life and that of others, your soul wouldn’t be working right. Shame is like a fever. A fever is when the body elevates its temperature to fight viruses and bacteria. We want to get rid of a fever – and yet it’s helping to scour the body of harmful invaders. Shame is a burning in the soul that reacts against the destruction of addiction. Don’t fear shame – fear when there is no shame and shamelessness takes over.
Addiction delivers a temporary high and an elevated spike in pleasure – but there is no meaning and purpose in it. I’ve never met anyone who derived any meaning or discovered life’s purpose from their addiction. Quite the opposite – it robbed them of meaning and purpose. There’s no meaning or purpose outside of feeding the animal within them. It’s no longer about meaning or purpose, it’s about the pleasure, the spike, the high. These are sensations of the body and appetites of the soul. And yet the soul is never nourished by addiction as it feeds on the momentary emotional satisfaction that vanishes like the morning mist. If pleasure is your purpose, look forward to a meaningless life.
A lot of people “grow out” of their addictions. Consider this: “The average cocaine addiction lasts four years, the average marijuana addiction lasts six years, and the average alcohol addiction is resolved within 15 years. Heroin addictions tend to last as long as alcoholism, but prescription opioid problems, on average, last five years.”
I know, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, but let’s assume that this is an accurate report. Even so, none of those who “grow out” of their addiction(s) are proud that they were addicted. Even so, the carnage wreaked by their addiction(s) remains.
What’s my point? Church, we have the message of deliverance and the means of recovery. Jesus came to set the captive free and to restore the soul of the freed captive. We say to all who are darting into the shadows, lurking in the darkness, hiding behind a façade of normalcy – come to Jesus. He is not ashamed of you. He is not intimidated by the wake of destruction behind you. Christ is not disgusted by you. Your desperation is the very reason He came for you. Would the man injured in a car accident roll behind a bush so the paramedics couldn’t find him? Would the person on fire run back into the burning building so the firefighters couldn’t rescue them? Would the woman lost in the forest hide behind a tree so that the search and rescue team couldn’t find her? Why run from Christ? He is the Paramedic who has come to bind up your wounds. He is the Firefighter sent to rescue you. He is the Search and Rescue team who has come to find you and bring you to safety.
Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” The Church has the same mission as Jesus – to seek and save the lost. We are the Paramedics, the Firefighters, the Search and Rescue team. We have the same mission as Jesus, but do we have the same heart? You cannot love those you despise. You cannot have mercy on those you judge. Those in the bondage of addiction can smell your judgment. May we be the fragrance of Christ. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:16 that we recognize no one by what he is in the flesh. Who and what you are does not govern my thinking about you. Not what you have done, but what Christ has done determines my attitude toward all. May the Church be Jesus to all those locked in the meaninglessness, purposelessness, and emptiness of addiction. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Be blessed and stay healthy and follow Jesus – Pastor Tim