the gospel is the truth that no addict wants to hear, but they need to.

Save_Me_From_This_Nightmare_by_RustyfurEvery sinner is some kind of addict. Every sin brings pain and hurt. I haven’t been a pastor very long, but I’ve already dealt with all kinds of addicts. I’ve talked to drug addicts and alcoholics. Some of them could admit their addiction, some still can’t. Though I may never know who, statistically speaking, I have or have had members struggling with sexual sins like pornography and homosexuality who can check off every same symptom of addiction. I see people addicted to power, to technology, to money, to every kind of sin and every kind of idol.
They’re all a lot alike.  In fact, every addict I’ve ever talked to has 2 things in common: They’re sinners, and they’re hurting so much under the weight of that they’re dying for a quick fix to the problem.

That’s the biggest lie addicts tell themselves. There’s a quick fix for their pain.  Addiction is nothing more than a false optimism for a quick fix, a quest for instant gratification doomed to fail.  Self medication is a dangerous thing.  Through the haze of pain and sin, bottles and needles and computer screens and bank accounts look like medicine that can make things alright again. Those highs don’t fix the problem. Addicts spend more and more energy chasing a lower and lower high. And soon after, it hurts again. Desperate as we are, we cannot escape the weight of sin.

The church sees this and wants desperately to help, but often all we do is trade one high for another. We say “Let’s get them high on Jesus instead. Jesus will make them feel better. He’ll be their instant gratification so they won’t hurt anymore”…until they do again.  Then they’ll have to try that much harder to feel that much lower all over again. If you treat God like a drug and faith like a feeling, you’re entering into the same downward spiral you just left behind.  That theology of false glory is every bit the same addiction and has all the same danger. There are burnt out ex-Christians everywhere who bought into the idea that a prayer to Jesus would be their quick fix that rids them of ever feeling pain or sadness again.  They were lied to.

Jesus isn’t a drug. He never promised that if we gave ourselves to Him we’d never hurt again. He promised that He’d join us in these same pains, and that He’d bear them for us. He’d die with them on His own shoulders for sinners, that the power of sin would be destroyed. He promised us we join Him in this cross daily in our baptism, dying to sin, and rising to new life.  He promised we can be certain that as He lives, we shall live. He promised that we are not alone.

In this world, there will be pain, suffering, and sin, but we are not alone in it. He bears it with us, and in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. His love was so strong that it bore the cross for us. That love will not fail in these last days.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When will it stop hurting? It might not while you still breathe on this earth.  Don’t want to hear that? I don’t either, but it’s true. The difference between those idols we crave and the cross is that the latter won’t lie about it.  Until the last day this earth will be full of sin and pain, but the road of addiction to false idols leads to ruin. The cross gives honesty, truth, and above all peace.

The honest truth that no addict wants to hear, but they need to, is the gospel. Jesus died for sinners.  He bears your sin, and forgives it. It is gone. He will bear you now in your pains. He will get you through them. It will probably hurt, but it is just for a little while, and at the end is life everlasting, secured by Him who died for you. This is the only peace that lasts. This peace is for sinners, addicts, and most of all, this peace is for you.  Jesus saves.

the gospel is the truth that no addict wants to hear, but they need to.

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