Sharing Our Experience, Strength, and Hope
Principle 16: Because God has saved us from ourselves, we must share our story and hope with those who need it.
In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 1 Peter 3:15
I grew up in an evangelical church, meaning that we placed a high emphasis on sharing our faith with others. I was often reminded that Christ’s final command was to carry his message to the nations (Matthew 28:19-20).
So, I felt compelled to try and share the gospel . . . but I rarely actually did it. I just felt like I was supposed to. On the extremely rare occasion that I shared my faith, it was usually an anemic attempt to tell others how they needed God. I didn’t have much of a story to tell because up to that point, I hadn’t let God do much for me. It wasn’t that I didn’t have any struggles. It was that I hadn’t yet allowed God to touch them. So, in sharing my faith, I just didn’t have much to be excited about. I certainly wasn’t filled with my own experience and hope.
In recovery now, as I have begun to learn what it is that God has done for me, I have this desire to share my hope with others who struggle as I have. I know the misery of following myself and I know the joy and peace that comes in following God. As he has filled me with life and hope, I want to share that with others.
I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to become an addict to experience Christ’s transforming power. I’m insisting that we need to allow God to transform us so that we may share his message of hope.
If I go to others, pointing a finger, telling them how much they need God, this is not nearly as effective at simply sharing my story. I see your struggle brother. I’ve been there. I’m not perfect, but I now have joy and hope where I once knew only misery and futility. Can I tell you what God has done for me?
I rarely try to convince someone else they need God. Perhaps I’m just lazy, but there are plenty of people out there who know they are a mess. Only those who know they are sick seek a physician (Mark 2:17). So, I share my story with those who know they need help.
We must daily allow God to work in us, transforming us. Then, because God is saving us from ourselves, we must carry that message of hope to the hurting and lost.
Author’s Note: I’m currently writing through the principles that have helped me understand my condition as a Christian who still has very real struggles with my destructive appetites. I’ll include the full list here for reference.
- God created us to live in communion with Him, but man’s sin fractured that communion.
- We all struggle with flaws in our corrupt flesh nature, though it has different manifestations in all of us.
- When we come faith in Jesus Christ, we are born again into a new, perfect spirit life and restored to communion with God, but we still carry this gift in a flawed flesh life.
- Though God may graciously deliver us from some thorns of the flesh, some battles are lifelong, requiring the ongoing work of denying self and following Christ.
- We may always feel the gravity of the flesh, but we are not to live enslaved to it. We are meant to know and experience freedom daily in Christ.
- The Christian life (discipleship) is a continual process of abandoning (crucifying) the flesh nature and following Christ.
- Though we will fail, there is always grace and forgiveness for those who believe in Christ.
- Though we are forgiven, we are not to use grace as an excuse to continue in our destruction.
- God’s eternal forgiveness does not absolve us from practical, earthly consequences.
- As we all struggle, we must be continually honest, not constructing a facade of perfection, as this is detrimental to our recovery and the recovery of others.
- We should regularly meet together with the purpose of encouraging each other to abandon the old life for the pursuit of God.
- Though we try to find purpose, joy and fulfillment in following ourselves, we can find the answer to our deepest needs only in God, as he provides the only adequate replacement for our self-destructive pursuits.
- Sanctification is the process of God transforming us in and through our obedience.
- God allows the daily battles and honest struggles of recovery to deepen our awareness of our constant need for God.
- Though our eternal identity as Christians is in our new life in Christ, it is dishonest and unhelpful to pretend the persistent struggles of our flesh nature no longer exist.
- Because God has saved us from ourselves, we must share our story and hope with those who need it.