Recovery is a Daily Choice
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:18
“It’s easy not to drink when I’m in here.” I’ve heard this from many alcoholics and addicts while in treatment. In treatment, they’re living a life consistent with sobriety. They’ve made radical changes and they’re addressing life problems in a setting that is relatively free from temptation. The old way of life has been removed, and in this environment, they begin to realize that the sober life is possible . . . but it isn’t easy or automatic.
The problem is that treatment doesn’t last forever. Eventually, the alcoholic or addict returns to his life. If he’s willing to make changes from day one, abandoning the old ways, going to meetings regularly, he will stay sober. AA has a saying, The program works if you work it. Many an addict though – me included – has just gradually slid back into the old life somewhat accidentally. We didn’t just one day choose to relapse, but neither did we consciously choose to work at recovery. When we don’t daily choose recovery, the gravity of our self-destructive desires gradually pulls us back. Not making a daily right choice means we’ve already made the wrong one.
Jesus taught that it’s the same with faith. In today’s passage, he said that he didn’t come to condemn the world, but to save it. Whoever believes in him finds faith and salvation, but those who don’t consciously choose him, have already made the opposite choice. Not choosing right is to have chosen wrong.
We sometimes think that following God is a once-and-done, theoretical decision that exists as a simple belief in our minds. Later in the passage though, Jesus expounds on what it means to believe in him. Whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God (John 3:21).
Faith and recovery are daily behavioral choices which will be apparent to those around us. If we choose to follow God, living in faith and recovery, we will find peace, joy, and life. In not making that daily choice, it’s our nature to drift back to following ourselves. In doing so, we again find the misery of the old life. If we want the new life, we must daily choose to live in it.