Tue November 14th, 2017
In his song ‘Addicted to Jesus’ Carman sings these words:
People they go crazy and don't know when to stop Running, jogging, exercising, I'm gonna pump you up Smokin' in the boys room, drink up all the booze Drug and crack and heart attack and what do you lose Addictions are broader than you may think
In doing so he recognises that people get addicted to all sorts of things – we think drugs, but of course alcohol is probably the biggest addiction of all, then there is gambling, smoking, and even some things that seem natural – like exercise, sexual activity, or things that on the face of it seem harmless like video games.
Most of these things weren’t around in the days when the Bible was written, so you can’t expect the Bible to speak directly about them, but it does have something to say about addiction in general.
Addictions are truly things that enslave you and Jesus came that you might have freedom.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5v1 NIV
It is worth pointing out that addictions are not always easy to shake off – but that Jesus is definitely the real answer to them.
The American Psychiatric Association identifies the two primary alcohol use disorders as alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. The first is mainly when people just drink too much e.g. binge drinking, and the second is when people cannot manage without alcohol – they become dependent on it. Dependency is a terrible thing because people lean on their booze like men and women were designed to lean on God. Whereas God is good, booze, drugs and other addictions are poor bedfellows!.
Like a god?
Other addictions are similar in the way they rewrite our brain pathways and develop as habitual behaviors, but all are ‘substitutes’ for a healthy relationship with God. Alcoholism may be the main addiction spoken about in scripture, although it is not alone.
Jer 2:25 "Slow down. Take a deep breath. What's the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, 'I can't help it. I'm addicted to alien gods. I can't quit.' THE MESSAGE
The truth is that addictions become like God to us, and also the following of other Gods can itself be an addiction.
The constant looking for pleasure can also be an addiction.
Prov 21:17 You're addicted to thrills? What an empty life! The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied. THE MESSAGE
Violence can also be an addiction – either watching it or taking part in it:
Nah 3:1 Doom to Murder City — full of lies, bursting with loot, addicted to violence! THE MESSAGE
There is also the addiction to your own personal appearance – this sometimes manifests in ways such as eating disorders.
Amos 6:6 Woe to those addicted to feeling good — life without pain! those obsessed with looking good — life without wrinkles! They could not care less about their country going to ruin. THE MESSAGE
Considering that there are no consequences to our behaviours is simply silly and has huge consequences when we just copy those around us. We do get ourselves into a position that we can’t think straight anymore and just become obsessed with our addiction.
Eph 4:17 And so I insist — and God backs me up on this — that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. 18 They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. 19 They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. 20 But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! THE MESSAGE
Paul talks about an addiction to lust that leaves us no better than animals.
2 Tim 3:4 ….addicted to lust, and allergic to God. 5 They'll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they're animals. THE MESSAGE
The Bible tells us not to overdo anything but to be a people of moderation, except the Holy Spirit with whom we should be full all the time.
Eph 5:18 And don't get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled with the Spirit: HCSB
How do we help?
So many people seem addicted these days – so many are in debt or homeless because of gambling and the terrible consequences of addiction affect so many people in our communities – many of them who end up in church. How do we help them, how do we deal with them?
Having compassion on people with addictions is the key to any ministry to them. Jesus told us to love people! When someone comes into church who is drunk or high you may not be so far gone you can’t connect with them, but you can still pray for them.
Prayer should always be our first resort. If people will let us pray with them we should always go for it! There are lots of people who have had great success in shaking off addictions when they have had committed people praying with them – you only need to read the story of Jackie Pullinger, or talk to people from Betel here in England. Pray enthusiastically, pray in tongues, pray in every way that you can!
People who really want help often need specialist help. This is where places like Betel are amazing – people go and commit themselves to work at Betel for a minimum of 12 or 18 months. Betel do a great job www.betel.uk
More than anything we must model the supernatural life changing power of Jesus. It is not enough to be religious, and being judgemental is no help at all. These are people whom Jesus loves and died for, but we recognise that they are often a hard people to help. Jesus is the answer and if we start with prayer we will help them more than we can imagine.
Going back to the song, Carman suggest that there is such a thing as being A2J – Addicted to Jesus! Whereas this sounds weird to some of us, the truth is that we must encourage people to be dependent on Jesus and if we do addictions will be broken in the power of His name.