A Dangerous Myth

A Dangerous Myth

No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. Genesis 17:5-6

For years, I’ve met weekly with a group of trusted brothers, encouraging one another to keep up the good fight, using our ongoing struggles to point us towards God and his will. Every Saturday, we discuss our previous week: its successes, its failures, and our continued struggles. Because I’ve not struggled with opioids for many years now, it’s tempting to believe that I’ve arrived. I’m good now. I can quit coming to this group because I’m fixed. I don’t need to change a thing. It’s amusing because it’s so absurd. I may not struggle with drugs, but while I’m on this Earth, I’ll continue to struggle with selfishness, pride, gluttony, lust, greed, and anger. There’s always some area in which I require further transformation. God is continually shaping me and as I grow, I become aware of more flaws.

I’ve arrived, is a dangerous, but tempting myth. As Christians, Jesus instructed us to continually die to ourselves so that we may follow his will. We may not consciously believe that we’re perfect, but many of us live this way. If we doubt this, we must simply ask ourselves this – What struggle am I currently putting to death? How am I abandoning the old life so that I may follow Christ today? If we can’t answer that, then we’ve embraced stagnation. We may not overtly claim that we’ve arrived at perfection, but if we’re not daily abandoning the old life, then we’re living as if we have. For the Christian, transformation is a lifelong process.

This was demonstrated in today’s passage. When Abram was 99 years old, God reinforced his covenant that Abram would become a father of many nations, changing his name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of a multitude). Nearly a century old, Abram had walked with God for decades, yet he wasn’t done. Abram had not arrived, and God still had work to do in his life. Abram continued to transform, becoming more of what God wanted him to be.

Whenever I meet someone who’s relapsed into drug use, I ask what happened. It’s invariably the same story. I was doing good, but then I stopped working on my recovery. I just gradually slid back to the old life. As Christians – and as those in recovery – we will never arrive at perfection. Our job is to daily continue to abandon the old life, seeking the new one. Arrived is a myth.

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