Sharing Our Experience, Strength, and Hope
And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: “The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.” Revelations 2:8
While first interviewing those struggling with addiction, I always ask how it started. When inquiring about the addict’s childhood, I often hear horrific stories of neglect and abuse. Growing up in a using environment, with abusive parents who brought drugs into the home, it’s no wonder that these individuals struggle. They had no one to model normal, healthy behavior. All they inherited from their parents was addiction and dysfunction. Now, as adults, they’ve surrounded themselves with those who also use. Their entire environment is built around drug use and as such, they simply have no one sober to influence them. They know nothing but the drug life, which makes it profoundly difficult to find recovery. When they get out of jail or treatment, if they return to that using environment, they just cannot stay sober.
For the alcoholic or addict to find recovery, he (or she) must often purposefully surround himself with those who’ve had some success at it. This is the idea behind recovery meetings – peer support. The one addicted needs others who’ve struggled with chemicals and who’ve found success. There’s something powerful about being able to say, I’ve been there. Once he finds recovery then, it’s the recovering addict’s job to turn around and help the one next to him who’s still struggling. Alcoholics Anonymous is all about sharing experience, strength, and hope. Those who’ve found recovery, must share it with those who need it.
This is Christ’s message to the church in Smyrna in today’s passage. In it, as Jesus introduced himself in this letter to the church, he referred to himself as the one who died and came to life. Jesus walked on this Earth, experiencing what we experience. He’s been here. He suffered intense trials. He was tortured and killed. Yet he still lives. Now, the power that raised Christ from the dead is offered to us. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you (Romans 8:11).
Christ is the ultimate model for us – sharing his experience, strength, and hope with us. As he died and was resurrected, so we too may die to the old life, experiencing the new one (Romans 6:4). If we’re struggling, and if we need new life, we must purposefully and daily immerse ourselves in Christ, continually abandoning our way for his. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, we too may know a brand-new life.