Every Day We Pick a Side
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5
I grew up in church where those around me lived moral, upstanding lives as far as I knew. I simply knew that Christians didn’t struggle with things like drug and alcohol. I also knew that those who did struggle with addiction weren’t really Christians. Just like my favorite movies and TV shows, I divided the world into obvious good and evil. I was one of the good guys of course. If you’d have told me as a teenager that I’d one day lose my job due to an addiction, I’d have laughed at you. I’m not one of those addicts. I’m one of the good guys. I’m a Christian.
Even as I began my descent into addiction, I remained blind for a long time. I wasn’t an addict. I was a physician taking medication to help me sleep, relax, and recover from long shifts in the ER. Eventually though, I couldn’t deny my addiction as I developed a tolerance, experienced withdrawal, and watched the drug consume my life. I didn’t set out to become addicted and to lose my job. I simply followed my appetite above all, gradually surrendering everything, until I became something I thought I’d never be.
This is the way it is for most of us. We’re prone to dividing the world into good and evil and we simply assume that we’re on the good side. We’d never consciously embrace evil, becoming the bad guy. In today’s passage though, Peter explained exactly how simple it is to join the wrong side. In it, he admonished us to embrace humility. In our pride, he said, we place ourselves in opposition to God. In our humility, we join his side. In our pride, we go to war with God.
I’m not opposed to God though! I’m on his side! When I last relapsed, I felt God telling me not to do it. I did it anyway. All it took was for me to follow my will instead of God’s will and suddenly, I’d chosen the wrong side. This was my ultimate arrogance – To look God in the face and go my own way. I paid dearly for it.
I think of pride as saying, I’m so amazing. The worst kind of pride though, is simply putting my way ahead of everything and everyone, including God. I can think of myself as an absolute worm and still be prideful, following me above all. Humility, on the other hand, means abandoning my way for God’s way. In doing so, I choose the right side – God’s side – which is a choice I must make daily.