Facing the worst in ourselves with the grace of God
Lockdown is a nightmare for addiction. Imagine all the ingredients that foster an addiction — boredom, access, & isolation — coming together for an undetermined period of time. This is the reality many are facing. Maybe it’s someone you know, or maybe that someone is you.
What hope does Jesus offer when it seems you can’t stop watching porn, can’t stop taking that drink, can’t stop eating, can’t stop purging, can’t stop cutting, or scrolling?
Jesus offers freedom, and the faith to believe it’s possible.
Jesus never used shame to bring people home.
Shame is a pervasive sense of unworthiness, even self-hatred. But Jesus never once used someone’s shame to bring them home, even the tyrant tax collector Zacchaeus. Jesus deals with us in our weakness with the sort of gentleness that keeps a barely glowing wick aflame (Isaiah 42:3). Jesus traffics in kindness, not shame. (Romans 2:4) Jesus arrives on the scene precisely when we are at our worst to say “I love you” with proof in hand. (Romans 5.8)
Nothing is more painful than stepping into the light. It’s true, Jesus never repented, simply because he had nothing to repent for. Yet — and that’s a big yet — He paved the path out of sin & addiction, the path of repentance and faith. Hebrews gives Jesus the title, “pioneer of faith”. (Hebrews 12.2) His faith is the faith for tired sinners like you and me. Jesus began his ministry identifying with sinners at his baptism, though he wasn’t one, went to the cross where he suffered as one, and now lives to rescue sinners. (Matthew 3.11, 2 Corinthians 5.20, Hebrews 7.25) He knows the pain and sorrow of sin — not his own, but yours and mine. This simple fact should encourage us that the pain of stepping into the light is something Jesus himself can empathize with. Jesus is not impatiently waiting for you to “get it”, instead he’s coming to you to show you the way out. Do you trust him to step onto the path he forged?
Jesus isn’t going anywhere. He‘s here for all of it.
In one simple moment of repentance and faith, our entire destiny is secured and changed. We move from death to life, in an instant. Yet the road home is long. “The way is narrow” and “I am with you always” says Jesus. Addiction presents a complex array of interplaying systems — from our brains to our bodies — and yet Jesus is over all of it. His kingdom spans galaxies, quantum particles, and everything in between — including the long road of recovery. Many turn back from Jesus because they never heard “many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them from them all” (Psalm 34.19) As a pastor, I can’t share all the ways addiction shapes our synapses, but I do know what Jesus speaks to our souls everyday on the way home:
Come to me all who are weary and heaven laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light, and you fill find rest for your souls.