I Don’t Understand Your Addiction
Now before faith came, we were held captive . . . But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith . . . for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:23-28
I have an unfortunate habit of seeking out division. Yes, I’ve wrestled with addiction to opioids, but when I learn that someone else has wrestled with gambling, I’m a little condescending in my mind. How could you be so stupid – to gamble away thousands of dollars that you didn’t have? Because the struggle is foreign to me, I look down on it.
Even in my faith and recovery, it’s my nature to look for those things that divide us. When I meet someone who’s investing time and effort into the faith and recovery of others, I tend to look for flaws in their method or doctrine. In my mind, I do everything exactly right and if someone else doesn’t agree with me, they must be doing it wrong.
In today’s passage, instead of focusing on what divides us, Paul talked about the two, perhaps most important defining characteristics, that we all share. First, we’ve all struggled. We’re all enslaved to our own self-destructive nature, and we all need to be saved from ourselves. Second, though faith, we can all find freedom and acceptance. Seen in this light, we’re all on the same level and we all have some extremely important things in common. Yes, the details of our struggles are different, but we all struggle, and we can all experience freedom in Christ.
When I meet someone who struggles with something I don’t understand, like compulsive shopping, it is foreign to me. If, however, I choose to view it in the context of my own addictive, compulsive struggles, then I can find common ground. The specific behavior may not be the same, but the lying, hiding, and shame are all familiar. In choosing to see the struggles of others through my own struggle, I embrace compassion, understanding, and unity – not division.
In my faith and recovery, I must often choose to focus on common goals. If we agree on salvation and freedom through faith in Christ, then we have a great common ground. Yes, our doctrinal differences may be of some import, but that which unites us – faith in Christ – is hopefully far more important than that which divides us.
We all struggle in different ways, but we all struggle. Likewise, if we desire, we can all find freedom through faith in God. That fantastic common ground is cause for profound unity – not division.