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Magical Thinking

Magical Thinking

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8

Listening to a medical education lecture recently, I learned about a South American hallucinogen that’s been touted as a one-time cure for opioid addiction. It sounded too good to be true, but those selling the remedy insist that it works. So, it was studied – and found to not to cure opioid addiction. The idea is so attractive though, that people still buy into it. They want it to be true because it’s easy. All you must do is pay one of these charlatan clinics for a few days of treatment and suddenly, you’re cured of a lifetime of misery. In recovery, we call this magical thinking.

I’ve done something similar. When I first tried to get sober, other Christians told me that I didn’t need treatment or AA. All I needed was Jesus. Just give it to him and you’ll be transformed. Whatever they meant by that, what I heard was, You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to go to treatment or meetings. All you must do is whisper the magical words and poof, your addiction will be gone.

So, I did that. I prayed, but I changed nothing. My twisted version of faith became a hindrance to transformation and recovery. It wasn’t faith of course. It was magical thinking. I wanted change with no cost or discomfort, and I saw God as the easy way out. I did nothing and changed nothing and so, I relapsed, causing more destruction than ever before. Standing in the rubble of my life, I had to figure out where I’d gone wrong. Today’s passage was the slap in the face that I read on my way to treatment.

In it, Paul explained that, even though we’re Christians, we can still pursue two very different lives. Daily, we can sow the seeds of our own flesh nature, but in doing so, we will reap destruction. Or, daily, we can sow the seeds of our Spirit life. In doing so, we will grow and find eternal life. The daily choice is ours and the consequences of either path are predictable.

Believing in God doesn’t mean we can’t fail. Simply praying and asking him to take away our destructive desires doesn’t make them magically gone. If we want the life for which he’s created us, then daily, we must sow the seeds of the Spirit, following his will instead of our own. In doing so, we will grow the life we’ve always wanted.

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