Why Isn’t My Life Fixed Now that I’m Sober?
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:20
When I came out of treatment for my opioid addiction, I knew that things were different. I’d attempted to find recovery before, but this time, I knew I’d found it. I believed I was on a different path, and I wanted everyone else to see it too. I wanted my life back and I wanted it now. I’m better now. Let’s go back to normal. Looking back, I can see that I was indeed living a new life. Though I was a different person, the rest of my life took a couple years to catch up. I still had to answer to the state medical board. My marriage was still a mess. I had a new identity, but my life wasn’t fixed instantly. Even now, though I’ve been in recovery for seven years, I still have other struggles.
This is somewhat similar to how Paul described the Christian life in today’s passage. In it, he said that, because of Jesus’ work on the cross, we who believe in him are now citizens of heaven. The work of salvation is done and spiritually, we have a new identity. We still live in these mortal bodies though, which retain their flaws and imperfections. We still struggle. We’re not yet made perfect. Though we have a new identity in Christ, we’ve not yet been completely transformed as we will be one day, when we leave this Earth behind.
This can be frustrating. From other scripture (Romans 6:4-7) we understand that we have a new life and that we’re supposed to be set free from sin. Our experience though, says otherwise. We still have self-destructive desires, and we still struggle with following our path instead of God’s. Today’s passage explains this duality. Yes, we’re citizens of heaven, but we still live flawed existences on this Earth. One day, we’ll arrive at perfection, but we’re not there yet.
Does this mean we’re destined to live enslaved to our struggles for now? Absolutely not. Though we’re not made perfect in this life, the Christian life is meant to be one of continual growth and transformation. Because of our new identities, we now have the freedom to daily follow ourselves or to follow Christ. The results will be predictable. If we follow our way, we’ll make ourselves miserable. It’s only in following God’s way that we find the life, joy, and peace of being a citizen of heaven, even while living here on Earth.