Tag Archives: addiction

Lawlessness as a Pursuit of Freedom

As a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, I experience first-hand the pursuit of freedom on all sorts of topics from racism to classism. Many feel in bondage by the so-called “men in black”, the people at the top telling the little people what they can and cannot do. This notion of oppression is often true. People are experiencing prejudice in one way or another. Our society rightly celebrates historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., that led the revolution against social injustices all in the name of freedom and equality.

While all of this is good and right and just, we’ve somehow lost sight of where freedom ends and selfishness, even lawlessness begins. Perhaps it is that we all don’t agree on the definition of freedom. Some may even venture to say that freedom is a dirty word that only hippies and liberals dare to proclaim. The reason being, freedom is now being translated into no control, no laws, no standards.

Picture this, you are driving your three kids to a soccer game when suddenly your minivan is plowed into by a shiny new sports car. For the sake of this illustration, no one is injured. You go to court to seek justice, but when you get there the defendant says, “I don’t see why what I did was wrong. It felt good.” This is the argument of so many today. Or what if you decide not to pay your taxes? Your argument could be, “I’m not hurting anyone.” Again, I’ve heard this excuse before. Most of us can agree that there is a time and place for laws, rules, standards, but when once applied to us it can be uncomfortable. Honestly, how many times have you gone far over the speed limit, but then that one time you slow down you look at the person speeding by you like they are the criminal? We’ve all done it or something similar.

So if we can all agree that we need laws and standards, and we all agree that it sometimes means we will be uncomfortable, then why do people use the “rules” of Christianity as an excuse not to be Christ-followers? I pondered this for several days and I have come to these conclusions.

1. They have not personally experienced Christ’s love and forgiveness. For me, it was like Pringles, once you pop you can’t stop. Once I experienced it for myself, I was sold. Perhaps those people have experienced or heard only of the manmade religion of Christianity without the joy of knowing him.

2. They have not differentiated their experience with man with their experience with God. Many people decide how big, how strict, how overbearing, or how loving God is by looking at their experience with their earthly parents. They have yet to experience God’s deliverance and forgiveness of others.

3. They are not ready to give up something they know is ungodly. Overcoming vices, habits, even addictions, starts with knowing God will meet you where you are. He does not expect you to overcome these on your own before coming to know Him.

4. They genuinely believe in another god or entity or have some other spiritual belief system. You probably know people of many other faiths, and that’s okay. We are not called to beat them with the Bible, but called to love them and by loving them we reveal the person, the God of Love.

There could be a number of other reasons as well.

The fact is we are living in a world that is increasingly becoming about self, hence the term “selfie”, but in the midst of a self-centered, highly technological world, there also many who are overly aware of the world around us. You can go on YouTube and see video after video of the “news” that actually wasn’t ever aired on the news, someone took it with their personal cell phone. With all this information about injustice at our fingertips, really who are we to trust? Ourselves? Or a God that loves above all else, but also sets “laws” in place to help us avoid injury to the body, soul, and spirit? Which sounds more freeing?

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The Last Fruit

You may have heard of the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, after describing the acts of flesh, Paul contrasts them with the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is made up of 9 parts (or perhaps it’s 9 fruit) in either case they are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Now, just because Paul names self-control last definitely does not mean that it is least. In fact, during the holiday season this is one of the sourest fruits for many people.

Each Christmas Eve my dad and I ring the Salvation Army bell at his local Raley’s. In recent years we have been required to ring inside, which is hilarious because they have now rigged the bells to be much quieter. I call it the bell’s “inside voice.” This year we had to ring a couple weeks early because of my trip. Standing just inside the door of Raley’s I look out across the aisle of stuffing, potatoes, and frozen turkey, but before my eye can reach the foods of Christmas feast they are set on the rather large display of hard alcohol, beer and wine. I turn to my dad and say, “Wow! It must be difficult for alcoholics to go into stores like this during the holidays.” After making that statement I thought of all the other temptations that haunt us at this wonderful time of year. As we are welcoming in our newborn king, we are also over-indulging in food, drink and shopping. I doubt the baby Jesus would approve of our gluttony.

One thing that is not to be misunderstood in this verse is God is not saying we need to do it alone. Ironically self-control in this passage is really saying “give God control.” For an addict it can be nearly impossible to control one’s self, but through the Spirit we can all achieve self-control. It’s a matter of saying, “Hey God, I can’t do this. I need your help,” and like a perfect Father He will sweep you up from the “miry clay” of over-indulgence and plant your feet on solid ground.

If you are struggling with self-control as Him to help. You are never alone in your struggle.