Saturday, October 24, 2009

12 Steps And A Sick Church

I had a discussion with my son and mentioned that the 12 Steps of A.A. were something that every church should take a good, hard look at. He told me, "the Church is sick". I agree. The 12 Steps of A.A. mirror the truth of God's Word. Step 1: Admit our powerlessness over our sinful nature and the inability to manage our own lives (this is paraphrased). Step 2. Believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity (or, as in the case of the Church, "save us" from our sin and ourselves. Step 3: Make a decision to turn our lives and our will over the the care of God. In the case of A.A. it's "God as we understand Him/Her/It". As Christians we seem to be able to get through the first two just fine. And then, as we turn our lives over to Christ we bog down on the "will" part. We don't surrender our "will", we just are happy to be "saved and on our way to heaven". In A.A. there is a saying that one has to "reach their bottom" in order to see their true need for intervention. I have found that, in a lot of ways, those in A.A. have a better understanding of "surrendering the will" than those in the Church of Jesus Christ. This enables those in secular "spiritual" groups to continue on in the make a fearless and searching moral inventory of their lives, admit to God AND another human being the exact nature of their wrongs, to make amends to people they have hurt,... to carry the message of experience, strength and hope to others, etc. The Spiritual live is indeed a "journey", a succession of "steps", if you will. The Church would be wise to take a cue from A.A., N.A., or any of the various recovery groups and live up to what the Bible has been teaching from the surrender, examining our lives in the light of God's word, the dire need for fellowship and the gratitude to the saving Grace of Jesus' death, resurrection and forgiveness which enables us to "carry the message" to those who are still hurting and suffering.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Addiction and Worship

As Bob Dylan so aptly stated, "You Gotta Serve Somebody". For most of us that "somebody" is ourselves. Addiction has been defined as "a state of compulsion and obsession, focusing on one element that will supposedly satisfy." All human beings are born with a God-shaped hole in their souls and most of us spend our lives trying our best to fill this hole with "something that satisfies", be it money, power over others, a beautiful body, prestigious job,.....drugs, alcohol, sex. In Sharon A. Hersh wonderful book, "The Last Addiction" she states: "The definition (of addiction) is incomplete, however, because it leaves out the heart of addiction. Addiction goes deeper than obsession and compulsion. It is worship. It is giving my heart and soul over to something that I believe will ease my pain and provide an outlet for my fury at being out of control in a world that hurts me, scares me, or leaves me alone...." I find this to be true in my own life. It's a constant battle to try and "not" fill my life with pursuits in which I try to find my ultimate comfort and identity. I must leave it up to God to not only design my life but to fill my life with Himself. I do have an identity and it is in being a son of God through faith in Jesus Christ. When we come to a place in our lives where we can truly long to hear the words from the lips of Christ Himself, "Well done, good and faithful servant", only then can we re-direct our lives in such a way that we can find fulfillment in this life and the life to come. The Bible says it is better to "give than to receive". I believe that's the secret to overcoming our obsessions. We must first learn to "give" our lives over to God and His purposes and then, in turn, to be able to "give" of ourselves to others in a position of servanthood. This is our true act of worship and it takes us out of ourselves and into the realm of healing and wholeness.