How Many Treatments Does It Take?
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:31-32
I’m ashamed to admit it, but my 2014 trip to chemical dependency treatment wasn’t my first attempt. I completed two prior out-patient treatments, spending 10 hours every week for several months, in group therapy. My first time around, I can vividly remember meeting those guys who were on their 3rd or 4th treatment, thinking, What a bunch of losers. What’s wrong with them? Why don’t they get it? I’m never coming back.
I went back . . . two more times. The third time, my inpatient treatment, seemed to “stick” where the others hadn’t. Why? Did I gain some new mysterious knowledge that the first two treatments failed to provide for me? While I’m sure I learned something new in every treatment, the difference was in my willingness to apply the truth that I’d already been given. Had I lived out the basic truths of recovery that I learned in my first treatment, I probably wouldn’t have made trips two and three.
Jesus taught this principle in today’s passage. He said that those who live in, or abide in, his commands will know the truth and that in this truth, they would find freedom. It wasn’t enough to simply know the truth. To find freedom, Jesus said they needed to live out the words he had commanded.
Often, we’re tempted to think that simple intellectual knowledge of a truth is faith, but it is not. A diabetic can accept that he needs to take his insulin and cut down on sugary foods, but unless he lives out the truth, that truth does him absolutely no good. Likewise, with me in my first two treatments, I knew I needed to surrender my will to God, following his path, but I refused to do so. The truth did nothing for me as long as I failed to live in it.
We will find transformation and freedom only when we live the truth we claim to believe. Simply accepting Jesus intellectually – believing in his existence – is not enough. If we don’t want to continue repeating the mistakes of the past, and if we want to find life, freedom, and recovery, we must abide in God’s word, doing whatever it takes to live out what we know to be true.