Addict and Christian?
He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo. And the archers shot King Josiah. 2 Chronicles 35:22-23
When my addiction came to light, there were those who questioned my faith. How can you be a Christian and struggle like this? It’s a natural question. I was asking it myself. Am I a Christian? Am I just an addict?
When an addict dies of an overdose then, the questions are even more intense. Can a Christian die like that? Would God allow such a thing? Because of the severity and finality of the failure, it is unfortunately natural for us to question the faith of the one who failed.
Today’s passage provides some insight into this situation. In the story, King Josiah, who followed God with all his heart and with all his soul (2 Kings 23:25), opposed Neco of Egypt on the battlefield. Neco sent an envoy to Josiah, insisting that his fight was not with Josiah. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you (2 Chronicles 35:21). Though God spoke through Neco, Josiah would not listen. For his failure, Josiah died that day.
There are several lessons here. First, even those who know and follow God, can fail. Josiah was a great king, but he still sinned. Second, destructive behavior always has some consequences. Josiah’s sin led immediately to his death.
Third, the manner of our death does not determine the destiny of our soul. Josiah’s mistake killed him, but it did not erase the relationship he had with God. Josiah knew God his entire life and one mistake, no matter how horrible, couldn’t change that.
I’m not suggesting that all struggles are the same. Drug addiction and food addiction are not identical. I am saying that the death from drug overdose and the premature death from the diabetes and heart disease that stems from a food addiction are not morally different. We all struggle and we all fail. Sometimes that failure leads to severe, if not immediate, consequences.
The most important lesson from the passage, is that what matters is not whether one fails or not, but whether one knows God. A couple thousand years later, the manner of Josiah’s death is not important. What truly matters was that he had a relationship with God.
The same is true for us. We will struggle, and we will fail. If we accept the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ however, then we are forever-forgiven for all of our sins. Everyone dies with some forgotten or unconfessd sin. The beautiful message of the gospel, is that because of Christ’s death on the cross, we have been forgiven for all of our failures: past, present and future.