Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” John 13:38
In recovery, one of the most dangerous things to embrace, is overconfidence. Many of us have fallen into this trap. Convinced that we’ve been fixed, we come to believe that we’ll never struggle again, and, in our confidence, we let our guard down, becoming apathetic about recovery. Why would I keep going to meetings? Why work the 12 steps and meet with a sponsor? I’m better now.
Christians in recovery are particularly susceptible to this kind of thinking. We know the passages about being a new creation in Christ and we interpret that to mean we’ll never struggle again. If we believe ourselves to be fireproof, then it doesn’t matter how close we get to the flames. I can do whatever I want because God has transformed me. I can even have a beer if I want, because I’m no longer an alcoholic.
In today’s passage, Jesus, speaking of his approaching crucifixion, told the disciples that he was going to a place where they couldn’t follow. Supremely confident in his faith, Peter claimed that he would follow Jesus anywhere, including death. I wonder if Jesus was hurt or amused by Peter’s bold claims. He knew – and he told Peter – that in the coming hours, Peter would deny knowing him three times to save his own life. Peter was all talk, confidence, and bravado – until he was in real danger.
I’m not saying that we’re destined to relapse. If we daily do what it takes to abandon ourselves and follow Christ, we can live in freedom without ever returning to the destruction of our addiction. To daily abandon ourselves and follow Christ though, we must be continually cognizant of our need for him. It’s when we become overconfident in ourselves, claiming that we’re fixed, that we begin feel that we no longer need God.
Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (Matthew 9:12). If we think we no longer need Christ’s transformational power, we’ll stop seeking him. Then, like Peter, we’ll be in trouble. In this life, if we wish to flee disaster, we must remain aware of our persistent self-destructive nature. Our confidence must be in Christ alone, causing us to cling desperately to him.