The Sunday I let Jesus embrace me, I was still recovering. That Friday, I had gone to pick my child up still high. A parent does not go much lower. So I turned my life over for the sake of my son—for the sake of myself—for the sake my soul.
And Jesus said to the woman, “Go and sin no more.” John 8.11
That was the last time I abused drugs.
I was born with an addictive personality. It’s the reason I can’t drink only one glass of wine. I always want a second, and then a third. I no longer take prescription pain medications because I like the medicine more than the recovery from pain.
I was born with an addictive personality. If you need evidence of this, come take a look at my coffee
Jesus knew this and he embraced me in that moment of failure. He embraced me at the bottom of my addiction. And then He commanded me to sin no more in this area because He knew He was enough to overcome death for life.
Every time I read the news, or a new book review, or a blog I am confronted by a new American gospel. It is a gospel that is tired of the staunch churches whose doors are locked to those who need them most. It is a gospel which hungers to feed the hungry. A gospel which longs to care for the sick. It is a gospel that cries out to Americans to shed their materialism, their consumption, and consume the man-God Jesus in His entirety. It is a gospel that believes that Jesus was serious when He said to care for the poor, the orphaned and the widowed.
And I like everything about the above. I long to join them…in those areas. I long to throw my arms open alongside them and embrace life and good deeds.
But there is something missing from this gospel. I’ve hesitated for more than a year, unsure of why I couldn’t step into the current and flow. I blamed my husband because he was unwilling to sell all our belongings. I resented him because he wouldn’t move with me to serve the poor and uneducated. And I stood from the front of the church foyer looking through the glass longing to be serving outside, in the streets, and not knowing how.
Over the last couple months something has happened. I have noticed a flaw in the gospel of grace and acceptance. Its advocates demand that we accept all as they are and call nothing sin. It speaks against the stains of the church and accuses her of suffocating the words of Christ. It embraces acceptance at the cost of theology. It focuses on select words and actions of Jesus—ones that are of paramount importance—but severs them from the holistic context Scripture for the sake of becoming culturally relevant.
And I don’t know what to do.
My Christianity doesn’t look much like the life of Jesus. I know this, and I desire to be filled by Him. But then again, Jesus allowed me to live in 21st century America. I know this, and I desire to infuse Him into my neighborhoods.
Here is my manifesto: I don’t know how to speak to people about the transformation of Jesus Christ unless I give them the hope and promise of change. I cannot give people food without telling them that what they have been eating is toxic to the soul. I cannot give them clean water unless I will also tell them the filth they have been bathing in will kill them. I cannot clothe them without confessing to them the intricate glory of the Creator who made them.
I cannot give them Jesus and tell them to continue to live in sin.
I was born with an addictive personality. We are all born with one sin or another.
If Jesus loves me enough to tell me to leave that place of sin, then why do we believe we are doing justice to His words when we give others permission to stay?
I desire to follow Him. So I must go.