God or Higher Power?
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
When I initially sought recovery, I was warned – by some well-meaning Christians – against Alcoholics Anonymous. They, after all, promoted a generic higher power, not the Christian God. One counselor did indeed tell me that my higher power could be anything, even a doorknob. I knew who my higher power was though, so, I went. In AA, I discovered the 12 steps, which are taken directly from the Bible. Whatever they may say, AA’s higher power looked an awful lot like the God I already believed in. Despite its nondescript higher power, AA led me closer to recovery and God.
Still, there are times when those in AA can be offended by my specific use of God or Jesus. As an organization, they wish to remain inclusive and as individuals, they often don’t subscribe to my biblical faith. This reflects the prevalent world view that there are many paths to God. All faiths are equal and anyone who claims to know the only way is narrow-minded.
This can be attractive and as Christians, we may be tempted to embrace this inclusivity. It certainly would make some things easier if every religion were equal. Today’s passage though, makes it impossible to embrace this generic view of faith. In the story, Peter explained exactly who healed a lame man, making this statement, There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Peter’s definition of God was not flexible.
Though AA remains tolerant when it comes to defining God, they’re most certainly not flexible when it comes to the 12 steps. Those in AA will insist that if you want recovery, you must follow the steps exactly. Those who follow them, certainly can find sobriety without believing in a specific God, but in recovery, they will still point others to those 12 steps that helped them. Even AA has some specific, rigid beliefs.
As a Christian in recovery, I can follow both AA’s and Peter’s example. Because I found recovery in Christ, who used the 12 biblical steps in my life, I must tell of what he’s done. I bear no responsibility to make others believe in a specific God. I can’t recover or have faith for anyone else. I’m simply responsible to God – not AA or the world – to give appropriate credit for my life-transformation. I believe in a specific God. There’s no need to be ashamed of that.