The Addict’s Advantage
For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 21:13
Before I had a drug addiction, I had other self-destructive appetites that needed to change if I truly wanted to live by faith. The problem with those other problems though, is that they just weren’t that bad. As long as those things never caused that much destruction, I didn’t have to deal with them, and I didn’t really have to change anything. Yes, I wanted transformation. I just didn’t want to get too crazy with my faith. So, I changed nothing, and nothing changed – except that I slid further into the disaster of my way, which eventually led to a drug addiction.
In my addiction, I got to the point where my way was so painful that I finally became willing to commit to radical change. I certainly don’t do it perfectly now. I still have other struggles. Because my addiction was so destructive though, it caused me to do what it takes to abandon my way and follow God’s. I’m not thankful for the hurt I caused others, but I have become thankful for my addiction because of where it’s brought me. I needed my addiction to learn to follow Christ.
Most of us can identify with the idea that there are things about us that need to change. We have our struggles. We want to be different. Deep down though, we know that authentic change is really hard and so, we’re just not willing to do what it takes to get there. We fear change and so, we don’t want to get too crazy. The voice of moderation, and maybe the voices of those around us, say, It’s not that bad. Don’t get too carried away.
Today’s passage describes how even the apostle Paul knew those who tried to convince him to play it safe. Following God’s will, Paul turned to Jerusalem, where everyone knew he’d be imprisoned. The Christians around Paul all tried to turn him from that path, but he would not be dissuaded from God’s will no matter how crazy it seemed to everyone else.
God’s path, the path of repentance and transformation, is often radical and dangerous. It’s dangerous to our old life and so, our old life doesn’t want us to change. If we desperately want the new life though, we will do whatever it takes to get there, no matter how crazy it seems to anyone else.