Can You Tone it Down a Bit?

Can You Tone it Down a Bit?

Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” Exodus 8:25

Years before I found recovery – probably before I realized I was addicted to opioids myself – I spoke with a guy who identified as an alcoholic in recovery. The way he spoke bothered me. When he referred to himself as an alcoholic, I objected, But you don’t drink anymore. He explained that finding recovery was more than just not drinking and that he had to work on his recovery every day. But you’ve been sober for years. His casual approach to the topic made me uncomfortable and I found that he wanted to talk about it far more than I did. I didn’t ask him to tone it down, but I wanted to, and I avoided the topic in the future. I’m happy for him, but he’s a little nuts. There’s no need to be so fanatical. I just didn’t get it.

Pharaoh didn’t get it either, as illustrated in today’s passage. In the story, Moses demanded that Pharaoh let the Hebrew people journey three days into the wilderness to worship God, as God had commanded. When Pharaoh refused, God struck Egypt with sequential plagues. During this fourth plague, one of flies, Pharaoh told Moses his people could worship God, but that they had to stay home to do it. Fine, you can worship your God, but you don’t have to get crazy about it. Just do it quietly here (my paraphrase). Pharaoh was fine with them believing in God, but he didn’t want their faith to change their behavior in any way that affected him.

Just tone it down a bit. Many of us are far too comfortable with this idea. Yes, we believe in God, but we don’t want our faith to make us weird or fanatical. The problem is that the Christian life, as prescribed by Christ, is quite fanatical. It’s not normal to daily abandon ourselves to follow Christ and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Yet that’s exactly what God asks us to do.

It took the massive destruction of my own addiction for me to begin to understand the fanaticism of authentic faith. I was once fanatical for my drug, sacrificing everything for it. This brought me only misery. So now, in recovery, even years later, I must fanatically seek faith and recovery. If I call myself a Christian, then my life should look like I follow Christ, which will naturally appear weird to the world. Sometimes I worry what others will think. I’ve been known as that addict though, so now I’m content with being known for my faith and recovery. So, no. I probably won’t tone it down anytime soon.

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