Recovery Lessons from the Grill
Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38
A few years ago, my family got me a new grill for Father’s Day. It came disassembled in a box and so, it was my afternoon project to put it together. Loosely following the instructions, I turned a one-hour, simple project into a three-hour exercised in frustration. I was maybe 30 minutes in, when I realized I’d put a piece together wrong. Not wanting to go back several steps to correct the mistake, I pushed on, foolishly hoping it would eventually just work out.
As another 30 minutes went by, when I should have been finishing up, it became painfully clear that things were not going to just work out. I was going to have to turn around and undo everything, starting nearly over. I could have pushed on at that point – which would have been the easier thing to do – but on that path, I was never going to get where I wanted. If I desired a working grill, I had to turn around and go back.
In today’s passage, when Peter’s audience asked him what they must do in response to the gospel of Christ, Peter told them they must repent. If they wanted the new life, they must turn from the old one. If they wanted transformation, they needed to stop following themselves and start following God. One of the first steps of obedience was to participate in baptism, symbolically identifying with Christ’s death and resurrection. Embracing the new life, meant dying to the old one.
This is the lesson from my grill experience, and this is what the addict – and anyone who wants the new life – needs to hear. If we find we’re on the wrong path, it does us little good to continue down it. We’re never going to get to where we want to be by pressing on. As difficult as it may be, we must turn around and go a different direction if we want a different life.
Often, in Christian recovery, we come perilously close to telling the addict that he doesn’t have to do anything. Just believe in Jesus and you’re free. This is profoundly dangerous if we simply stop there. That belief, if it is real, must lead to repentance. True faith and recovery mean turning around, going back, and living a radically different life.