The Christian Customer
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
When I go to my local sandwich shop, I order my sub the way I want it. I get to specify the bread, meat, and toppings that suit my appetite and the person behind the counter is paid to comply with my requests. I’m the customer and as the customer, I get to pick and choose what I want.
Unfortunately, I’ve approached my faith and recovery this way. In my early attempts at sobriety, I was told that I needed to continue to work at my recovery, but I didn’t listen. Yes, I wanted to stop using pills, but I wasn’t ready put any work in or change anything and so, I picked and chose what parts of recovery in which I would participate. Meetings? Pass. Being open and honest about my struggle? Pass. Reaching out to help others? Hard Pass.
I thought I knew more than my counselors and I simply refused to do the things that made up recovery. In doing so, I didn’t keep it for very long. Soon, I was back using and wondering why. I didn’t understand that those recovery activities weren’t optional if I wanted to stay in recovery. Recovery consisted of those activities and without them, I wasn’t really living in recovery.
This is similar to Paul’s message in today’s passage. In it, he warned the Galatians not to abuse their freedom by using it to pursue their fleshly, self-destructive desires. They were set free, Paul said, to serve each other in love. The Christian life isn’t one of following ourselves. That’s the opposite of the Christian life. As followers of Jesus, we’re meant to love and serve those around us.
This isn’t optional. We don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Christian life we like or don’t like. If we follow Christ, we will obey his command to love those he puts in our path, whether we feel like it or not. If we refuse to live as Christians, we must, at some point, ask ourselves if we have an authentic faith, or if we’re just acting like the self-centered customer who thinks his way is The Way.
The customer picks and chooses, believing his way is right. The disciple listens and obeys, abandoning his way for God’s way. If we call ourselves Christians, then living as Christ commanded isn’t optional, but essential.