Better or Worse Together?
But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. Corinthians 11:17
It’s maddening to see an addict do well in treatment, only to get out and go back to the same old life where he’s surrounded by the same old using friends. Active addicts will always try to drag the one in recovery down with them. Few people can endure that kind of environment without relapsing. There is no small effort then, to get the addict to move from treatment into some type of sober housing. His odds are far better there, unless one of the other guys brings drugs into the house. One using addict in a sober house is a cancer, as his destructive behavior encourages others to relapse.
For the addict to stay sober, he must radically change his life. He must figure out how to abandon the old life, including his using friends, and he must surround himself with those who reinforce his recovery instead of trying to tear it down. This is one of the foundational concepts of recovery – addicts (in recovery) helping other addicts. It’s up to the addict though, to abandon those who would make him worse and to spend time with those who would make him better. In turn, he must choose to be the kind of person who helps others.
Though it doesn’t involve drug use, the Christian life is not much different. Daily, we can choose to spend time with those who dare us to do whatever we want, abandoning God. Or, we can choose to spend time around those who encourage us in our faith. Likewise, we can tear others down or we can build them up. The problem is that it’s just not normal for many of us to choose the spiritually healthy option. When guys get together, we don’t naturally incite each other to go out and serve God. Rather, we encourage each other to do stupid things.
In today’s passage, Paul chastised the Corinthians for being worse together. He said this is not to be the case. As Christians, we must come together to build each other up, not tear each other down. The lesson for us, is that we must daily choose to spend time with those who grow our faith. In turn, we must be the kind of people who make those around us better. This isn’t natural, but if we want the life for which we were made, it’s something we must seek every day.