Acts 7:58,60 They cast him out of the city and stoned him… And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Occasionally, someone will tell me I am a little too serious in my writing. In this estimation, I get carried away and perhaps am a little too sober. Invariably, the person offering the critique was not there for the destruction I caused, so he or she does not understand why I am so desperate to never return. The critique goes beyond just recovery from addiction though. It implies that maybe I take God a little too seriously.
I very much doubt though, that we can take God (or recovery) too seriously. We can take ourselves too seriously, but I do not think we can over-commit to God. When Jesus said that we are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37), He was insisting upon radical change. We are to purposefully turn our gaze to God in all things so that our outlook on everything is profoundly transformed.
This is not natural, which is why others will see it as crazy. It is our nature to seek fulfillment in self, pursuing our own desires above all. Christ insisted though, that we are to daily deny self and follow God in everything. The one who abandons the natural order of things will always appear insane to the one who does not.
In Acts, we are told how the apostles of the early church were arrested and beaten for following Christ. Upon receiving their beating, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor (Acts 5:41). When Stephen was arrested and stoned (not that kind of stoned), He prayed with his dying words, Lord, do not hold this sin against them (v 60).
These men looked insane to those who persecuted them. The world could not understand the apostles’ commitment to Jesus as they could not see their own need for him. Stephen however, saw his need for God and thus stepped into eternity, unconcerned with self. He realized that it was better to die for God than to live without him. That is why, with his dying breath, He asked God to forgive those who stoned him. He remained, until the end, more concerned about his killers’ spiritual well-being than his own physical well-being.
The world again, sees this as insane. The apostles knew though, as you and I do, that insanity is not found in following God. Insanity is found in following self to destruction over and over. Insanity is continually coming up empty, expecting to find in self, that which can only be found in God. We long for fulfillment, satisfaction, purpose and meaning, but it is our nature to pursue it in the wrong place.
This is why I am so intent in my pursuit of God, because I have known the destruction of following self and have come to know God as the only adequate solution to all of my deepest needs. The destruction I found in my addiction revealed this profound truth: I am a mess and I need God. I try to find fulfillment in me but come up empty every time. It is only in following God that I find true life and peace.
As it is natural to seek self, not everyone will understand seeking God. I will not spend much time trying to convince anyone of need. If one does not need God, then one does not need God. I will not likely convince anyone otherwise. There are more than enough people out there who, like me, are all too aware of their desperate need. Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick (Luke 5:31). As I know of my illness, I will remain committed to the God who heals me.
Does this sober commitment to God mean that I walk around in gray clothes with a permanent frown on my face? Absolutely not. Following God means life, joy, laughter, love and all the things I actually wanted in the first place. I was just trying to find them in the wrong place. It is paradoxically only in losing myself in God that I find exactly who I was created to be.