I recently had a very cool conversation with an old acquaintance.
They knew I had become a Christian since they last knew me, and felt free to openly share some questions with me they had been pondering for quite some time…I loved our conversation because it was honest and real!
Some people without knowing me can think I do not want to hear any other opinion than my own; yet this is sadly very far from the truth. I get tired of small talk. We all have the same red blood running through our veins, none of us are immune from the realities of our lives…So why not stop assuming and let go of the façade? Well this is exactly what happened the other night and has led to this post…Is Jesus my addiction?
During our conversation my old acquaintance told me about a friend of theirs, who recovered from alcoholism after becoming a born-again Christian. Now don’t get me wrong they were extremely glad their friend was no longer an alcoholic, but had a real thought that perhaps their friend had just replaced one addiction with another. Their friend was now passionately consumed with Jesus. My peer asked me what I thought about Jesus being their friend’s new addiction…I loved their question!
What a meaty question to ponder. I totally appreciated my peer feeling comfortable enough to raise this issue with me, so I did not want to give a response that was not seriously considered.
I had quite a bit to consider because firstly I have someone very close to me who has experienced the same recovery as my peer’s friend. I therefore know personally what my peer is referring to, and secondly I have to consider my own personal journey. There are many who assert Christianity is just a crutch after all. I told my old acquaintance I would take some time and write a thoughtful response down as a blog post; so here it is…
Is Jesus my addiction?
There is much research available on addiction. We now understand people become addicted to something due to a chemical response in one’s body to a stimulus. People can therefore become addicted to unhealthy things due to the way they make them feel. The overwhelming desire to feel that way again is what causes continued use or habitual use and creates the addiction cycle.
So I began to seriously ponder could I be addicted to Jesus? Is He my addiction? Have others substituted their past addiction for a new one with Jesus? Is Jesus their new addiction or fascination even?
These are personally very challenging questions but I do love raw honesty. There does seem to be evidence to suggest that meditation can be addictive. What I found was that some suggest a ‘spiritual bliss’ can become an addictive state for some.
This leaves me to ponder if this describes my spiritual life, or the life of others I know who have been actually addicted to substances prior to conversion. I have to say I honestly don’t think it does. I do spend time in Christian meditative thought about Jesus and prayerfully talking to Him whenever I like, but this is far from a spiritual bliss. Now I am not saying I never have spiritual experiences that are blissful because I honestly do; but the truth is they are sporadically dispersed and I don’t have withdrawal symptoms or negatively adverse reactions if I don’t have them on a regular basis and I believe the same is safe to assert for other Christians I know who were addicted to substances before addiction.
I also need to acknowledge I do know what addiction is like, as in my early adult years I was addicted to smoking cigarettes for more than a few years – but quit years before I was born-again.
So I found myself asserting that no, Jesus is not an addiction because He is a real person, with whom I and other born-again Christians are in RELATIONSHIP with. I then thought of my other relationships and of how I am not addicted with those whom I choose to connect and share life with…
However then I thought about people in abusive relationships who don’t leave and I wondered are they addicted?
Can relationships be addictive?
What I found is there are some who adhere to the premise that relationships can be addictive for some people. So then wanting to address all possible concerns, even though my relationship with Jesus is by no means abusive in any way, I needed to look at a new possible scenario.
Is it my relationship with Jesus that is my addiction?
Okay I said I love raw, so let’s be totally honest for a moment. I am a single, divorced woman, so it would be very easy for someone to say that I use my relationship with Jesus as a crutch; that this is my addiction given I am possibly a lonely and broken woman…
So I therefore must ask myself, as my relationship is not in any way abusive, what do I gain from it that could possibly be addictive because I’m not craving spiritual highs? And my answer is LOVE.
I receive pure, perfect love from my relationship with Jesus.
Now let’s think about love for a moment from a human perspective. We know how wonderful human, loving relationships can be and of the initial high people can get from the whirlwind of a new relationship. So is this the same for my relationship with Jesus?
Writing from my heart, I can say that my relationship with Jesus is so far above any human relationship possible – for His love for me is untainted and unfailing…it is deep and sustaining not like that of human love. You see God is LOVE and with Him living inside of me because of my re-birth by the blessed Holy Spirit I am now totally fulfilled as a human being…Not that human relationships aren’t important or good, they’re just fallible and limited.
So I’ve come to a place from contemplation, to acknowledge my relationship with Jesus is the best relationship of all and that I do love spending time with Him…Yet to realise that simply Jesus is not my addiction, He is my SUSTENANCE.
Scripture says, it is in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28) and I have come to a place of tangibly experiencing this. To experience true love and fulfilment that sustains me daily as I await His return...No life is not a bed of roses as I wait, for our world is still marred by our own free will choice of sin…But I have received forgiveness and now live in peace, transformed forever just like my brothers and sisters who were former addicts and are now drastically different, living lives in the freedom of Christ.
Before I surrendered to Jesus I knew love and had love – But it was honestly selfish love for myself. I was not fulfilled and therefore I tried so hard to fill the void with wealth and possessions...I don’t know if they were my addiction or obsession for sure, but I do know they were my sad substitution.
However thanks to God I now know true love and look forward to Jesus’ return when He will deal with sin and the enemy and renew all things for His children who love Him…I pray you too will experience Jesus as your sustenance for all eternity!
No, Jesus is not my addiction; He is my sustenance I cannot live without!
And as for my old acquaintance's friend...I believe the same is for them; that they haven't replaced one addiction for another, rather they have received the power to overcome the addiction and the sustenance to live a life of freedom in Christ Jesus.
Thank you to my old acquaintance for making me think and this post!
Let me leave you with this song that really covers all of us, 'Hold Fast' by Mercy Me.