Christian, Physician, Addict

Christian, Physician, Addict

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10

Fifteen years ago, if you had asked me how I wanted to be known, if I’d been honest, I’d have said that I preferred to be known as a good doctor. Being a physician is respectable. At the time, I’d have said that I also wanted to be known as a Christian, but I wasn’t going out of my way to do anything that would make you think I was too radical. I was also struggling with drugs, but I was desperate to keep that knowledge a secret. If I did imagine a day that my name would be in the paper for my addiction, it was with complete horror.

Most of us want to be well-liked and popular. We naturally desire the affirmation of status and dignity. If we do stand out, we want it to be for respectable accomplishments, like being a physician, not for being an addict . . . or a religious nut.

In today’s passage though, Jesus taught that we’re blessed when we live in such a way that others think we’re odd for following him. He said that when others speak evil of us, because of our faith, we’re living rightly, and we’re better off for it. If we’re doing faith right – loving God and loving others – the world will find us strange and that’s OK.

In the disastrous consequences of my addiction, I found my worst fears realized. I was no longer known as a physician, but as an addict. I remember thinking, I don’t want to be remembered for my addiction. I want to be remembered for the recovery. I don’t want to be remembered for the destruction, but for following God out of it. It was only in having my reputation shattered, that I became willing to live for something other than being a respectable physician.

This is still a struggle of course. At work, or at the gym, it’s easier to simply indulge in pride, just trying fit in, than it is to live radically different. Daily though, if we truly want to follow Christ, then we must learn to be comfortable with living in such a way that the world will think us strange. Abandoning ourselves to obey God and love others will always look a little weird . . . and that’s OK.

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