Addiction can feel like being in a broken elevator. Often, when you’re making progress and going up, a relapse throws you for a loop, and suddenly you’re going down again. Addiction can be relentless, all-consuming, and scary.
Substance abuse also can leave individuals feeling isolated and lacking purpose. However, as followers of Jesus Christ, we believe that God has a unique purpose and plan for each of us. He loves us, and He is ready for us to use His atonement to become better.
The shame addiction brings is often the most unbearable part of the whole process. Today, we’re going to focus on men overcoming substance abuse disorder and how they can turn to Christ to find a purpose beyond their addiction.
How God Views Addiction
God’s view on addiction may sound different, depending on who you ask. Some Christians may argue that addiction is a sin and thus would have no problem acting with judgment and condemnation as God’s mouthpiece. Others may look at addiction solely through a scientific and medical lens, believing that God is tolerant and sympathetic toward those struggling with it, or maybe apathetic.
We view the Savior as a redemptive God. He is a God who views addiction with neither anger nor apathy. He holds a genuine and all-consuming love for all His children and cares about our well-being.
You might be a husband. A Father. An athlete with a whole team counting on you. An executive with immense pressure every day. But above all, you are a son of a loving Heavenly Father. What do you think He would say if you were standing face to face with Jesus right now? Do you think He would criticize your choices? Threaten you? Display judgment? Let’s discover the answer through God’s word.
1. Jesus Healed the Sick and Reached the Broken
In the scriptures, we learn that Jesus is a God of many miracles. He healed the sick and never ignored the broken.
Matthew 9:12, “But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not physician, but they that are sick.”
In the ninth chapter of John, we read about Jesus healing the blind. In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, Jesus teaches about leaving the 99 sheep to find the one that is lost. Jesus was a friend to sinners. Jesus, the only perfect person to ever step foot on this earth, approached others without judgment. That’s what makes Him perfect. He sees you as a precious and valuable member of His flock in need of healing.
This doesn’t mean that Jesus condoned sin. He still spoke against sin but reached out His hand to offer repentance to the sinner. The stigma of your addiction may weigh on your shoulders like a ton of bricks, but Jesus offers a way to lift one brick at a time until the weight is gone. He offers transformation through His atonement.
2. Jesus Believed in Action and Never Idleness
In the Bible, Jesus extended His love to people struggling with physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. But His love had a redemptive agenda. He expected action. If you love someone, you know the cruelness of allowing them to remain in their hurt and broken state. God gives us the tools and expects us to act.
Jesus is a God of action. In the Bible, we read stories about Jesus drawing others in by His love and setting them up for restoration. Jesus believes in progress. Jesus discourages idleness. When we sin and turn to Jesus Christ, He doesn’t reply with, “Don’t worry about it. Just forget about it and move on.” He extends His love toward us and expects us to continue on the path of repentance. We have work to do. Work that is always worth it. Work that is cleansing.
3. Jesus Spoke Truth
Jesus is a God of truth. He approached people with love but was always honest. The rich young ruler, the woman at the well, and Nicodemus exemplify how Jesus presented people with truth. He called each of them out on their denial and got to the root of the hurt, pain, and sinful behavior. Then He gave them choices that offered a way out and a new beginning: “Do you want to be free? Do you want life? Will you follow me? Do you believe in me?”
While Jesus was fierce and didn’t waiver, He honored those He spoke to. In Christian-based treatment centers, loving confrontation is often the first puzzle piece of transformation. Confrontation with a loved one who is struggling. Or confrontation with yourself if you’re the one struggling. The first step to recovery is honesty. “Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.”
4. Jesus Believed in Relationships
Gordan B. Hinckley said, “Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.” In the Bible, Jesus met others with friendship. He was the ultimate example of loving your neighbor.
In our men’s treatment centers, men receive invaluable tools to build a relationship with Christ. Through that relationship, Jesus initiates freedom, truth, and light. We learn about our divine role as a man in God’s kingdom. People may have fooled you into thinking that organized religion is restricting or suffocating when, in reality, God’s gospel is the only thing that offers us freedom. In this case, freedom from addiction. Freedom from pain. Freedom from shame.
If you’re trying to rediscover who you are and find a purpose beyond your addiction, here are some faith-based steps toward finding God’s purpose for you.
- Cling to God’s Promise of a hopeful future (Jeremiah 29:11).
- Use your unique gifts to serve others (1 Peter 4:10).
- Turn to prayer for God’s guidance (Jeremiah 33:3).
- Continue on the Path of Progression (Romans 12:2).
- Get involved with your church (Hebrews 10:24-24).
- Get lost in service (Mark 10:45).
- Put your trust in God (Philippians 1:6).
If you looked in the mirror pre-recovery, chances are you didn’t like what you saw. You didn’t like what you felt, especially the feelings of powerlessness. By handing our power over to God, embracing His will, and clinging to His love, we can be washed clean and eventually love our reflection in the mirror. Through His grace and the support of one of the many rehabs for men in Utah, we can rediscover who we are, not letting our shortcomings define us but rather refine us.