12 Steps to Change
To even a casual observer, it must seem that our society itself shows many of the signs of classic addiction. Which leads me to wonder if the concept of addiction could be helpful in our understanding of what the biblical authors meant by “sin”.
Sin, like addiction, is a very powerful, sometimes fatal, always destructive disease. Instead of something that makes us feel like a child “caught in the act”, or something that made God unhappy, we should view sin as a disease. If God is “unhappy” because of our sin, then it is because he wills only the best for us and therefore he wills that our disease be healed. Jesus’ healing ministry made that crystal clear to us. If we study his ministry closely, we see that healing was about all that he did. Most of his teachings illustrated his healings. In much the same way, most of his healings illustrated his teachings. Why then did this idea not remain at the top of the agenda for most of our churches?
Instead, we live in a culture that cannot stop us from drowning in our addictions (sin). The waters keep rising. We need to at least see our reality as it is and not how we wish it to be. Carol Bieleck in her poem Breathing Under Water (You can read it here.) says that we need to completely detach from our reality and build a coral castle and learn to breathe under water. The New Testament calls this salvation, the 12-Steps call it recovery. The problem is that most Christians have pushed this salvation off into the life hereafter, just like many in the 12-Step program settled for mere sobriety instead of transformation.
So, where do we find ourselves now? Bodily addicted. Living in an often soulless society.
Moving Toward the Pain
What can we do to find real salvation? Become more worthy? First off, this is not a worthiness contest. The way to find real salvation is to move toward the pain. To confess that we are powerless is the first step. The experience of powerlessness is where each of us must begin.
Read the scripture. You will notice that Jesus found human suffering all around. And, he was concerned about human suffering now. Jesus was concerned about healing human suffering now. But, we Christians decided to push all of this off into some future reward system for the elect few who were “worthy”. Yeah, right. As if anyone is truly worthy.
Alcoholics have one thing going in their favor. Their addiction, powerlessness is all out in the open for the rest of us to see. The rest of us have to work on our disguises. And, we are quite accomplished at hiding our powerlessness. We have many different ways. We overcompensate for our more hidden and subtle addictions. Especially to our addiction to our way of thinking.
Unfortunately, the church hasn’t really touched most of us who call ourselves Christian. We haven’t been touched at the level where our hurts, unforgiveness, anger, wounds, and illusions are stored under lock and key. We have never been to the “inner room” where Jesus invited us (Matthew 6:6).
We are mostly sincere and well-intentioned people. That is until you remove our disguise and find the real problems we have with ego, control, power, money, pleasure, and security. That’s when you find out that we are just like most other people. The church has been guilty of a “fast food” Gospel. No real, deep transformation. Now, we see “Christian” countries that are as consumer-oriented, proud, warlike, racist, and addictive as everybody else. And more so at times.
We are all addicts.
And the way to transformation has four fundamental steps. I believe Jesus and the 12-Steps of A.A. are saying the same thing but with a different choice of words:
We suffer to get well.
We surrender to win.
We die to live.
We give it away to keep it.