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Making Addicts or Making Disciples?

Making Addicts or Making Disciples?

You are the light of the world . . . let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14

Twenty years ago, while in residency, we were taught to treat pain aggressively, which meant prescribing opiates frequently. It sounds strange now, but from what we knew then, we didn’t believe that we were contributing to addiction. After a couple decades of evidence to the contrary, we know better.

Now, after speaking at a chemical dependency treatment facility, I’ll occasionally be approached by someone in the audience, telling me that while in the Emergency Room, I provided him or her with a first exposure to opiates. This individual isn’t usually blaming me, but still, I’m at least partially responsible for contributing to his or her disaster. That’s a painful realization.

We may not be accountable for the actions of others, but the reality is, we all have some impact on the lives of those around us. We may influence for better or for worse, but we cannot escape the reality that our words and actions have some effect on our neighbors.

In today’s passage, Jesus insisted that we use our influence to live in such a way that our lives will be a light, pointing others to God. Alcoholics Anonymous provides a biblical model from which we would do well to learn. In AA, the goal is to change the lives of its members in such a way that those in need will want what they have. Members of AA don’t go into bars demanding sobriety. They just strive to live in recovery in such a way that others will want it too. They believe a changed life shines a light, attracting those still addicted.

Often, as Christians, we attempt to argue others into believing they need help, when we should be working on living a life that others simply want. As followers of Christ, we still have struggles, but we should daily be working at abandoning our self-destructive pursuits to follow God in such a manner that radiates our new life in Christ. Those around us in need will see this life and will want it too.

Unfortunately, I’ve contributed to my share of addictive, destructive behavior in others. Now, I desire to follow God, live in recovery, and take as many people with me as I can.

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