Matthew 9:12,13 Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick… I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.
Modern medicine sees addiction as a disease, a view which chafes some. The rub is that addiction involves apparently volitional behavior. Cancer does not usually cause people to lie, cheat and steal, whereas addiction does. So when I compare addiction to cancer, it can come across as excusing the bad behavior of the addict.
When I was in medical school, I had a minor cancer, which stayed minor as long as I treated it. If I had refused to recognize my illness and refused the treatment, it would have eventually killed me. In this way, I do think addiction is similar to cancer. If I do not admit the problem and actively seek treatment, it will be progressive and fatal. Addiction in this sense is a terminal illness.
Jesus however, pointed out the painful reality that we are all terminally ill. We all live in this flesh and we are all in varying states of decay. Our physical bodies are destined for the grave, our flesh nature is destructive and without God, we are spiritually dead. In this sense, we all, like it or not, have something in common with the addict.
We are all terminally ill in our addiction to self. It may not be that we all end up in jail or treatment, but we all are focused on our own desires enough that we cause ourselves destruction. Jesus taught that without him, we are all separated from God and thus, quite sick.
The difference between the one who gets better and the one who does not is simply that the one who recognizes it, goes to God. If I recognize my defectiveness and daily turn to God, He works on me and in me to heal me. If, however, I refuse to acknowledge my illness, I will never get better and I will never know God. In knowing God, my flesh is not made perfect but He does heal me spiritually, freeing me from addiction to self.
Jesus said He came for the sick, not for those who are well. The problem of course is that we are all sick and all need God, we just do not all see it. It is difficult and nearly impossible to convince someone to undergo a radical treatment if they do not see the need. No one in their right mind would choose daily crucifixion if they do not believe they are the problem.
So, I need to take Jesus to those who know they need him. I often think the Christian life is about sacrifice and not doing certain things. Jesus says however, that I need to do. I am to actively engage those around me who are hurting and in need. I am to love them as God loved me. I cannot save them but I can point them to the one who can.