How would you complete the question: “What are you addicted to?”
Would you be offended to be even asked such a question? I hope not, because we are all struggling with addictions since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden. What started out as an “addiction to the Almighty,” which was good, wound up being an “an addiction to self,” which is grotesque! We have been on a downward spiral ever since, moving from one addiction to another. Let me make this perfectly clear: for Christians, if our addiction is not to the Almighty, it’s the wrong addiction!
As a pastor, I have counseled people who are facing very difficult and often debilitating addictions: workaholism, sloth, gambling, alcohol, drugs, food, pornography, success, money, image, approval, or acceptance, to name some of the most common. Regardless of the addiction, the goal of our counseling sessions is to identify what the person views as their missing link in life that compels them to surrender to their particular addiction. You see, it’s not the actual thing they are addicted to that they believe is meeting their needs; it’s what they get from their addiction that is. And what they get is only a fleeting, illusory filling of the void that runs deep within their souls.
What we all need is a little Gospel-sanity in our lives. The Gospel tells us that we all have a hole in our soul; that hole is in need of constant filling, or we will feel empty, lost, and hopeless. But when we try to fill the hole with anything smaller than God, the filling never lasts—and in fact, it only makes us try harder the next time to fill it more. Apart from the Almighty, this vicious cycle never ends. We move frantically from one addiction to another, in a fruitless attempt to fill the hole that can only be filled by Jesus Christ.
Many Christians remember that when they were first saved, they sensed an overwhelming sense of peace—a filling of that hole in their soul. This is what the Gospel is designed to do. It fills the void caused by sin with freedom, joy, and faithfulness. The problem is that many move on from the Gospel, thinking it was only meant to start the filling process by getting them saved. They see the Gospel only as the “door” leading into the Christian life; they miss the truth that it is also the “floor” upon which they are to build their entire existence.
Only the Gospel can fill the hole in our soul and keep on filling it for the rest of our lives. Nothing in this world can do what only the Gospel can do, and God designed it for just that reason. Imagine being able to fill the hole in our soul completely and finding deep satisfaction in work or success or the applause of man. If this was possible we would never long for or look to God. We would live like Adam and Eve attempted to live—autonomous and apart from the rule of God. Yet to attempt to live this way is to deny our humanity.
All of life needs to be centered in and built upon the truths of the Gospel, the finished work of Jesus Christ. This is the one thing God designed to fill the void and keep on filling it without any effort on our part. That’s the point of grace! It’s a gift that has been given freely and completely and it never stops giving.
Tim Keller writes, “We can make him the new center of our lives and stop trying to be our own Savior and Lord. We can accept both his challenge to recognize ourselves as sinners in need of his salvation, and his renewing love as the new basis of our identity.” We need to keep looking to Jesus and stop looking to anything else. With an “addiction to the Almighty,” we will find a filling that overflows from the Fount of every blessing.
So . . . what are you addicted to today? Would a little reorientation of the heart do you some good?
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!