Addicts Can’t Be Christians, Right?
“Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. Acts 14:10
Today’s passage tells of a man, crippled from birth, who was miraculously healed by Paul. Upon his transformation, he arose and walked for the first time in his life. I’m sure his joy and gratitude overflowed as he finally got to do something that most people take for granted. I wonder though, if, years later, he gradually forgot what it was like to be crippled. After decades, did his conversion story burn bright, or, did it fade as walking became routine?
Many of us who have believed in God from a young age have never really known a dramatic conversion experience. We’ve just always called ourselves Christians and because we’ve never done anything that we consider really bad, we don’t have much of a radical story to tell.
I grew up in a Christian home and though I was never taught this, I would have once said that Christians couldn’t be addicts and that addicts couldn’t be Christians. I just assumed that I was like the cripple after his healing. Because I believed, I thought I was on the other side of the transformation. I understood that I was living my life as one already healed. I didn’t realize that I could go back to crawling on the ground if I chose.
I knew I had struggles, but they weren’t very big or bad, and so, I ignored them. Still, I lived, not for God, but for my own appetite. I didn’t realize it, but it was as if I was the cripple, who’d met God, but refused to rise, walk, and follow him. I was content where I was because it wasn’t that bad . . . until it became really bad in my drug addiction.
A lot of us find ourselves here. We’ve met God. We believe. He’s offered transformation. Because we don’t find our condition all that bad though, we’ve never really done what it takes to abandon our way to follow him. We’re like the cripple, who’s been healed, but instead of walking, we remain on the ground because it’s not that bad down there.
Often, things have to get really bad for us to see the truth. It’s not enough to simply see it though. If we want to live every day in the healing and freedom of Christ, we must rise, run, and follow him. If we believe, we’ve been shown freedom. Now, we must do whatever it takes to live in it.