Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Love-Relationship That Cures Addiction

The above quote is my best summary of what I understand about addiction. It is always a replacement for God, we know that. But it is distinctly a replacement for the joy we are not experiencing in relationship with God.

God is the most joyful person. Period. He just is. In his presence there is fullness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore (which just happens to be where Jesus is sitting!).[1]

God is also the most loving person. It’s who he is.[2] He is a person filled with desires for the greatest of good things in and for his children. He can’t desire anything less than the best.

When God created man in his own image and likeness,[3] it included this quality, that he made us to be joyfully beloved. Feeling loved by God should make us joyful beyond our wildest imaginings (hence Satan’s constant attacks on whether God is a loving person). Feeling joyful can only reach its highest fulfillment when it is how we feel because of how we are loved by our heavenly Father.

In the past three decades, a key component of my walk with God has been exploring why church-folk are so committed to self-protection instead of knowing and doing the will of God. Along the way I have been learning about the terrible trauma that has left so many of God’s children believing they are worthless and feeling hopeless that this condition will ever change.

Which has brought me to see how much of church-life is ruled by people’s addictions rather than their attachments to God and his people. After all, religious addictions are often the most difficult to admit.

Now that I can accept that this is a legitimate and serious problem in the church, it makes me all the more excited about the thing we call “the gospel”. From its very first announcement, it is a message of, “good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”[4]

Why do so many church-folk who say they believe this good news live as if they have never experienced this great joy? If everyone who believes in Jesus should be able to, “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,”[5] why is there so little joy when people talk about their relationship with God?

It seems that the proliferation of traumatic experiences imprison church-folk from admitting they are sinners in need of a Savior. Satan has blinded their eyes with the belief that God couldn’t love someone like them, and because they can’t believe the essential reality of the good news that, “God so loved the world that he gave,”[6] they can’t let themselves believe that there is a Savior for them as much as anyone else (even when they have a basic belief that the Bible is true).

Into this mess of wrong beliefs, as though knowing we would think them, God has already written that he, “shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”[7]

How do messed up people come to believe that God our Creator could possibly love us? By looking at the cross. In the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, all God’s children see how much he loved us while we were still sinners. When we become his children through repentance and faith, we are on a journey of discovering that we were loved even before the beginning of time.[8]

Jesus describes for us a relationship in which he is the true vine and we are the branches.[9] We are invited to abide in him the way branches receive their sustenance from the vine to which they are attached. Why does he want us living in love-relationship with him like that?

Here is the answer in his own words, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”[10] Jesus told us to abide in him as branches in a vine because it is that relationship that would cause his joy to flow into us, and our joy to be brought into its fullness.

It is not surprising that so many addiction recovery groups begin with some kind of declaration that we are powerless, and a greater power needs to help us. God has not left us to face our powerlessness alone, nor to create a higher power in our own image and likeness.

Instead, he who created us in his image and likeness comes to his powerless children and calls us to come home and find everything we need in him. He will replace our demoralizing addiction to temporary happiness with the experience of his everlasting love and eternal joy.

Jesus said that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”[11]

The evil one has stolen, killed and destroyed so much in our lives with his snares, enticements, and addictions. Jesus laid down his life to give us life, and it is ours for the having if we will receive him. Anyone who will bring the real messed-up condition of their souls to Jesus will find that he delights to return us to joy no matter how joyless our present condition.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”[12]

© 2020 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Psalm 16:11
[2] I John 4:8, 16
[3] Genesis 1:26-27
[4] Luke 2:10-11
[5] I Peter 1:8
[6] John 3:16
[7] Romans 5:8
[8] Ephesians 1:4-6 (the beautiful context is Ephesians 1:1-14)
[9] John 15:1-11
[10] John 15:11
[11] John 10:10
[12] Matthew 11:28-30

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