• Jesus Loves Addicts

Imagine rolling over in the morning, your first thought Where are they? as you reach blindly for the pills, the syringe, the bottle. Maybe you just need it to get ready to go to work, maybe you need it just to get out of bed, maybe you don't care. Whatever shame you once felt has long since evaporated in the scalding heat of your need.

The core of addiction is fairly simple: we have a God-shaped hole that needs to be filled. And people are filling the hole with things other than God."

Imagine trying to manage the network of lies your life has become. You don't remember how it all started, but the only thing worse than the stress is how you feel when you're not online looking at those images, or when you're not doubling down on a hard 11—outside of moments like those, you don't even feel alive. It's worth the risk of getting caught, of losing your paycheck, of watching your house of cards tumble.

Imagine going to your purse and realizing you're down forty bucks from yesterday. More grocery money, you think, gone up in smoke. You call out her name, but she's gone, and you head for the jewelry drawer, heart sinking, to see what's missing this time. You tell yourself, That's it—this is really the last time, but you know it's not true. Shuddering, you wonder what it will take to break this cycle.

Addiction takes many forms, but in whatever form it takes, it takes. Health, money, relationships, peace, trust—all are casualties of addiction.

According to Brainz.org, the ten most common addictions are:

  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Drugs
  • Gambling
  • Food
  • Video Games
  • Internet
  • Sex
  • Shopping
  • Work1

No big surprises there, but what about phone addiction—a more modern form of addiction. No way, you say. There's no such thing. Think again.

Huffington Post writer Anna Almendraia stated: "I'm always amazed that many of the (mostly younger) students around me sit in class with their phones in their hands, quietly scrolling, playing and texting while the teacher lectures, writes math problems on the board and asks the class to participate. In fact, a group of friends who sit behind me in class has appointed one person to take notes for everyone to scan later, so the rest of them can scroll on their phones until it comes time to sign the attendance sheet.

"What's going on here? Disrespect (for the teacher and their own education) and a misguided belief in multitasking, are a couple of things that come to mind. But what if my fellow students actually can't put down their phones—not even to pay attention to a fairly complex class that they paid a lot of money to take?

"Research on the possibility of cell phone addiction is an emerging field, and a lot of it centers on the habits of the youngest millennials (now teens and young adults), a generation that can't remember what it was like to not have a cell phone. A recent study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions found that female college students spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cell phones, while male students report spending nearly eight. The study also found that about 60 percent of study participants think they may be addicted to their cell phones."2

Phone addiction. Porn addiction. Money addiction. Drug addiction. True—some seem (and are) worse than others, but any way you slice it, addiction is still addiction.

The core of addiction is fairly simple: we have a God-shaped hole that needs to be filled. And people are filling the hole with things other than God. People don't see their need for God, so they put lesser things first, lesser gods—controlling elements that they feel they need in order to function and have purpose, meaning, and a coping mechanism for existence.

Though addiction in any form is a terrible situation to be in, there is good news: Jesus loves addicts. He yearns to set the addict free from any dependency on something other than God. Jesus died to purchase lost souls, to take control of a life and restore it to God's original purpose: a life full of love, meaning, and hope.

Define

Dictionary.com describes an addict as "a person who is dependent on an activity, habit, or substance."3 The phrase "to be addicted" takes on a more sinister meaning: "to habituate or abandon (oneself) to something compulsively or obsessively."4

In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, he mentioned how the household of Stephanas had "devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints" (1 Corinthians 16:15). In the King James Version of the Bible, devoted is translated addicted. The Greek word is tassó, meaning to place in a certain order. The idea is that their priorities were God's priorities; they were addicted to doing His will—filling the God-shaped hole with God. It's easy to see how the modern meaning of the word—which is largely negative—shows how so many in our world have become addicted to the wrong things.

Discover

  • "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God isfaithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  • "Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8, ESV).
  • "Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).
  • "You say, 'I am allowed to do anything'—but not everything is good for you. And even though 'I am allowed to do anything,' I must not become a slave to anything" (1 Corinthians 6:12, NLT).
  • "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good" (Romans 12:9, NIV).
  • "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

Develop

As Pastor Skip writes in his forthcoming booklet titled Jesus Loves Addicts, "Given the surprisingly broad range of addictions out there, it's likely that you will either know or be an addict. If you depend on anything more than you do on God, that's at best addiction and at worst idolatry. Think about how God loves you and has better plans for you than you can even imagine, commit to Him, and seek help."

If you are reaching out to a person with an addiction, whether it is someone you know or someone you have yet to meet, use the acronym LOVE as a guide:

L—Listen to people. Make a sincere effort to get to know them and their situation. In the case of those affected by addiction, don't make assumptions. Ask questions to clarify, and listen well. Bear in mind that most addictions make easy liars of even the most believable person; your compassion is valuable but could make you an easy mark, so pray for discernment as you listen.

O—Observe their life. Where are they coming from—emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually? Ask yourself, with discernment as well as compassion, How can I assist them?

V—Voice God's truth. What does the Bible teach concerning honesty, contentment, trust, and God's love for those in need?

E—Embrace them with the love of God in Christ. You may or may not have shared experience, but keep Jesus the focus of your conversation and outreach.

Jesus loves addicts. Will you?

 

 

 

 

1 Brainz.org, "The 10 Most Common Addictions," accessed 1/20/15.

2 Anna Almendrala, "Our Creepy Attachment To Cell Phones Could Be An Addiction," September 5, 2014, accessed 1/20/15.

3 Dictionary.com, "Addict," accessed 1/5/15.

4 Dictionary.com, "Addicted,"  accessed 12/21/14.