Asking the Wrong Question
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17
It’s always been my nature to live as if I had this question in mind, How much can I get away with and still be forgiven? I may not consciously ask it, but practically, that’s how I’ve lived. In college, I wanted to justify my drinking, so I went to the Bible, looking up verses about alcohol. I didn’t really want the truth. I just wanted to find passages that made me feel better about drinking. And I did. Jesus turned water into wine, and he gave his disciples wine at the last supper. Deep down, I knew that drinking wasn’t a physically or spiritually healthy for me, but if Jesus condoned it, then it couldn’t be all bad, right?
Not everyone has a problem with chemicals, but I do. Looking back, even then, I can now see that I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I didn’t go to God however, asking, Is this good for me? Should I do this? No. Instead, I went to God asking, Can I get away with this and still be a Christian? According to the passages I read, the answer was yes. I could drink.
I was of course, asking the wrong question. In today’s passage, Paul said that as Christians, the life we’re truly seeking isn’t found in eating and drinking, but rather in being filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, we try to find our fulfillment, purpose, and meaning in a thousand inadequate distractions. Instead of living for authentic joy, we settle for immediate gratification and pleasure. It may be drugs or alcohol, but often, it’s simply food, sex, money, status, career, popularity, beauty, or even shopping. Whatever our thing is, we turn to that to fill us when it never can. We’re never going to find our ultimate meaning in the appetites of our flesh, because God made us to be satisfied only in him.
In recovery now, I’ve had to learn to ask the right question. I’m still tempted to see how much I can get away with, so now I must consciously choose to find my joy in God. I must now purposefully ask him if a thing is good for me. I know I can do this, but should I do this? Does this drive me towards God or myself? Is this going to lead me to true joy or just a fleeting pleasure that leads to misery in the end? Asking the right question makes all the difference.