Living with the Addict
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17
I sat across from him over a cup of coffee a while back. He was a heroin addict who was facing significant impending consequences due to his addiction. Remorseful, but still not quite yet willing to give up chemicals, he told me how his plan was to simply smoke pot every day for the rest of his life. Heroin was bad for him. He admitted that. Pot though, was OK and would be enough to keep him feeling good without causing the destruction that heroin had.
In following our self-destructive nature, addicts come up with some profoundly foolish ideas that are exceeded in absurdity only by our ability to rationalize those ideas. It’s easy to see when someone else justifies stupid behavior, but it’s hard to see when we do it. This is why we need others who are willing to call out our diseased thinking.
In today’s passage, John describes Jesus as the manifestation of God’s grace and truth. If the Old Testament God seemed to be all about justice, truth, and judgement, Jesus came to be the expression of truth, balanced with his grace. God is both truth and love, and Jesus is the perfect demonstration of him.
Truth and love are exactly what the addict – or anyone struggling – needs. Unfortunately, we usually err in one direction or the other. We either hit the struggler over the head with a harsh truth, abandoning love. You’re an idiot. Or, we simply try to love him out of his mess, surrendering the truth. It’s OK. You’re just fine the way you are.
It’s hard to get right, but Jesus showed us how to be both love and truth. He dined with prostitutes and tax collectors, but he also called for their repentance. He saved an adulterous woman from being stoned, but he also told her to change her life.
This is the approach we need from others and it’s the approach we must strive for in dealing with those whom we love. When we recognize destructive behavior in our brothers or sisters, we must acknowledge the destruction, while humbly and lovingly addressing it.
I’m far from perfect, but I cannot ignore the poor choices you’re making. I love you too much for that. I can’t go with you down this road, but if you want to turn around, I’m here.