Monsters live in the dark. I also think our churches are really in the dark about getting people with addictions into the light.
We might not be 100% wrong, but I think that we need to see there is a need to touch this world and the attitude is often one of confusion, we don’t seem to be willing to allow ourselves to listen and be vulnerable, and we often don’t know how to make a dent in this world. But we loudly say we have the answers and plug our ears to the pleas of the hurting.
All of my struggles and seeing stretches of victory mixed with set backs and struggles, I think I have exposed the very way we treat addictions in our churches and our circles as simply missing something. Maybe the Lord is showing me a better way, or at least a tool we should add to what we are doing now.
I think if we are honest we can see the good, bad, and ugly going on in church today. What happens today is we tend to see the specks in everyone else’s circles and the problems everywhere else and the attitude is “Thank God we are not like so-and-so” and when someone INSIDE our circles says, “wait, that doesn’t make sense! Wouldn’t there be problems in our circles as well?” the attitude is one of shunning or stoning or silencing. Instead of seeing if what they say just might be true.
We have good services, we have great special effects, we can get busy for many activities and events. But if I could touch on one nerve, or maybe a few it would be this. I don’t think we are truly engaging the men of this country and I don’t think we are willing to listen and be vulnerable to see if there is still some great needs we fail to address.
In my experience the church is a place I love yet in my mind at least, at times it is a big place of deep hurt and rejection. If you have a background, you can feel like you are treated like you are under a microscope. If you fail during your walk, you are often given an immediate “See, we knew we couldn’t trust someone like you!” hopeless wagging of the head response. And if you see problems, even with solutions, you tend to be black-listed, shunned, not invited to the awards ceremonies, etc instead of honestly feeling your concerns are listened to.
I get it. But I also think we need to be willing to hear each other out. We seem to have this take-it-or-leave it attitude, an attitude of pride that says we are infallible, and when someone loves something enough that he won’t quit but feels his concerns are not validated, there is a huge mental battle going on and the devil plays havoc. Instead of understanding what this sort of “calling” might cause a person, and truly want to see if maybe he could possibly have something to contribute to the church, he is made to feel like he is a rebel and of the devil, and this feeds the confusion and rejection.
But if a chain of restaurants is going out of business, we can address management or continue to yell at the customers. My take on the church today, is we need a Christian-called-Consultant of sorts that is able to with charity, point out the issues and areas where we are failing. We need to be willing to listen, and we need to be willing to see that we might have some areas going well, but we are really failing in our relevancy to our culture, we are failing in stirring the emotions of young men to really sell out to the adventure of Christianity, and we fail to create an atmosphere of grace where we can be honest and open and not punished for admitting our struggles and slip-ups. And we fail to offer a place of hope that embraces failures on the way to victory, and we fail to have the charity and compassion to restore anyone and instead settle for a superficial shallowness of playing Christianity and conformity that many see right through and are disillusioned and disappointed when exposed.
We need not be afraid of, well, being real.
It seems, that the flesh side of things wants and fights to go all the way to that full all-out 24 7 place of perversion. I think we in general can avoid that in the flesh of doing good, and stay in the middle and I think that creates our circles culture of tough love and the elder brother syndrome. I was there when I was single — I was able to go to church every time the doors were open, go to any bible study at the drop of a hat, do any ministry I wanted, and spend hours in the bible. It felt so, so good. In many ways that was a great time, but soon after when I could no longer do those things, I hated myself and was angry, bitter, and felt like God hated me. I don’t think I was in a place of grace, because when I was doing right, I had no compassion for anyone who couldn’t get to church and couldn’t go soulwinning. I don’t think that I was as spiritual then as I thought I was. And I don’t think I am as backslid and hopeless now as everyone thinks I am.
I get ambushed perhaps when those desires return, but when things in your life overwhelm you and when you get hit in your area of weakness (for me it seems to center around rejection PLUS family pressures PLUS maybe excuses blaming others and my past and letting myself get stuck) then the cravings come back.
But in my spirit side of things — which eventually returns, quicker than I expect — and quicker than the church will believe — I want that same all-the-way sort of life that surrenders to all the “desires of the spirit”.
In my own life and helping others I think I saw/see 3 main areas that I don’t think the church is meeting perfectly and I don’t think the recovery groups completely achieve.
We need to get beyond this Phase 1 addict and in Phase 2 in Recovery you have No More Problems sort of thing. Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn says John Maxwell. What is worse? A man who gets saved and for the next 40 years is cold, lacks grace for sinners, and has a rotten attitude or someone who loves the Lord and is not waving his hand in rebellion but stumbles, falls, doesn’t quit, and keeps going? Why is the one who falls on occasion banned from serving but the one who “all these years doth I serve thee” not treated the same?
Grace always helps me get my mind back. The devil doesn’t believe in me and doesn’t think the Lord will ever use me. When the church echoes that, how does that bring out our best? Does that motivate us to serve God or give us a, “I can’t please them anyway” attitude?
I don’t think I am much, but I honestly feel God has some great plan in store and if I can learn to lead myself and my emotions and get some courage that I am hearing from Him despite hearing from the brethren that because I am not like everyone else, it can’t be of God, I think I might be able to figure out what I am supposed to be doing.
To me the 3 keys maybe to recovery in my life and in maybe helping others out of all addictions:
1) JESUS. First and foremost. Jesus is first base. But that is the start. (And this includes bible, prayer, etc)
2) A strong network. People who accept you but don’t let you stay stuck, but give you HOPE. GRACE.
3) A cause. I believe most young people are leaving the churches because we are bored, unfulfilled, and our struggles are not listened to. IT is a “I’m right, you’re wrong, I’m smart you’re dumb, I’m big you’re small” attitude of conformity. But to make a difference you have to be different.
This sound right? Yes, we need to love God and have charity, but how much are we really tempted when we are united in a powerful cause, having an adventure in our Christianity, and being in the place where we feel we were created to be in?