What God Offers the Addict
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. Matthew 9:9
The addict’s problem, as AA describes it, is self-will run riot. The addict follows his way of doing things above all, not just when it comes to chemicals, but with all of life. Even if he’s able to abandon drugs, still, he wants to follow himself, despite the fact that it has often led to disaster.
When I hit the doors of treatment, I knew I needed help – maybe for a week. I certainly didn’t need to be there a month. My counselor kept telling me I wasn’t ready to leave, but I knew better. Despite massive evidence to the contrary – I’d wrecked my life – I simply knew that I was ready for home. I was an idiot, but still, I wanted to do it my way. This is the exact life problem to which God offers a solution.
In today’s passage, Jesus came across a tax collector named Matthew – who is telling his own story here. Tax collectors were reviled as greedy collaborators with the Roman occupiers and Matthew, no doubt, had significant shame about his occupation. Money was his god though, so he remained in his destructive life, following himself, until Jesus provided an alternative.
Matthew must have known who Jesus was and must have respected him. That one so high, would think of one so low, must have appealed to Matthew. The passage says that Matthew had no hesitation. When Jesus said, “Follow me”, Matthew immediately abandoned his old miserable life for the new one.
This is what Christ offers, not just the addict, but all those who are sick of their way. Christ’s offer will be difficult for anyone who is satisfied with themselves. The self-sufficient and content have a hard time leaving the old life. Those, who are sick of self though – addicts and tax collectors – will find the idea of a new life profoundly appealing.
I discovered what Matthew knew. Following God will never lead me back to my disaster. I was in treatment for the third time, with every relapse getting exponentially worse. I desperately needed something new to follow. To me, and to all, God offers the only adequate answer to our greatest need. Stop following yourself. Follow Me.