ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Timothy S Lane, MDiv, DMin, is the president of the Institute for Pastoral Care and a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) since 1991. He is the coauthor of the books How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making; coauthor of the curriculums Change and Relationships and How People Change; and author of the Minibooks PTSD, Conflict, Family Feuds, Forgiving Others, and Freedom from Guilt. He has thirty years of experience in the pastoral ministry, counseling, teaching, and executive leadership. He is also adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries including Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. He is a national and international speaker, consults with churches, and writes about the importance of pastoral care (http://www.amazon.com/Timothy-S.-Lane/e/B001JOXKWG).
While Professor Timothy S Lane discusses the article entitled, “Godly Intoxication: The Church Can Minister to the Addicts” he believes that the church should be a place where addicts should seek help for recovery; unfortunately, the addicts have gone to secular programs to seek assistance as the result of the church’s failure to recognize that it has available resources to help people who are suffering from self-destructive dominating desires (addiction).
The writer gives an account of John and Suzanne who were alcoholic prior to their coming to the church where he ministered. The testimony of these couples indicates that they got help from AA instead of the church. He compared the story of these couples to his friend who also suffered from addiction. He poses several questions questioning the church’s involvement in the program which could help addicts recover from their addictions; unfortunately, the church is being considered a place where people have everything together correctly. He condemns this aspect of self-justification. He comments that the church cannot have all things in place for the fact that we all are sinners and are drawn to do wrong as the result of the sin nature.
The writer compares addicts to non-addicts as being no difference as the result of the predisposed Adamic sin nature which draws one to addicted act. He mentioned that the word “addiction’ is not mentioned in scripture; however, the scripture talks about self-destructive behavior of people. The self-destructive behavioral patterns are mentioned in the scripture which are addicted behaviors by virtue of their dispositions. He records the saying of Jesus in Luke chapter 6 concerning a good tree bearing good fruit and bad tree bearing bad fruit. This illustration of Jesus explains who an addict is and what self-destructive potential he or she has to cause damage to self.
The writer makes analysis of human activities such as workers and shoppers as addicts in the sense that they allow their works to take the place of God in their lives; as the result, he considers all people who go to church to be recovering addicts in some dimensions. If we allow ourselves to be dominated by habits or activities which undermine the place of God in our lives, we eventually become addicts in that dimension. He calls people who allow works to dominate them as work-acholics and those who allow shopping to dominate them as shop-acholics.
The book of Ephesians talks about the grace of God apportioned to us to make us live the lives which bring glory to God. Every former lifestyle is replaced by the present one in Christ to make us different from the world of perversion. Every addict is called to the community of faith for change of lifestyle. The grace of God is sufficient to take the addicts to a place of complete recovery which the church stands for. He capitalizes on the book of Ephesians to explain God’s grace and all surpassing power to deliver the addicts from their addictions. The addicts and Christians are admonished to be filled with the Spirit instead of being filled with self-destructive habits.
The church should be a place where addicts will share their feelings and struggles of addictions. Will the church be a credible place for addicts to share their feelings and struggles as compared to secular programs? The book of Ephesians and Hebrews highlights such things where the church should be a place of sin confession and exchange of God’s grace as believers interact with one another. Addicts are in the church; unfortunately, they are afraid to share their struggles because it might be taking to the outside world.
The writer explains that secular recovery programs have the higher power and the order of service in their sectors of operation. These things define who they are and what they believe. If the secular programs can have these ideas of their existence; then, the church of Jesus Christ has all to minister to addicts to fully recovery. We have God the Father who sits in the heavens to intervene. We have songs of deliverance and healing we can sing for addicts to be completely delivered from their addictions. The church has the best instruments and resources available to minister to addicts; however, the church needs to change its perceptions of how it looks at addicts. Addicts are human likes us and they desire the church help.
The writer indicates that every secular recovery program shows gratitude to its sponsor; as the result, the church should be a place of gratitude which indicates humility. The Bible lays emphasis on these things. We must be thankful to each other and God by expressing gratitude to God’s intervening power. The church is called to express gratitude to God and encourage its member to be thankful in every thing because it is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning the believers.
In the secular recovery program, one of the procedures is submitting to one anther. An addict does not want to submit because his or her desire concerning addiction are self-deceptive; for this reason, he or she does not want to submit. An addict will not recover if he or she has not been forced to submit. If the secular recovery programs can have these ideas put into place by human trials and errors, why can the churches put mechanism into place to achieve success in rescuing people from the nightmare of addiction? The Bible encourages us to submit to one another in love and in humility. The church has all to offer to addicts for full recovery. The church has the word of God, prayer, love, and structured programs for addicts to recover from addictions. The bible is the answer to the addicts’ problems.
With these four marks which include speaking to one another in love, worshiping the Lord, giving thanks to God, and submitting to one another, the Spirit-filled church has all what it needs to minister to addicts and to create a welcoming place for addicts and everyone else in general.
In this article, the writer shows concern concerning the church non-involvement to help addicts recover from their self-destructive habits. His point of the church involvement is in place; however, the church of Jesus Christ needs some awareness concerning what is happening in the community that affects its people. Since the church is for not-profit making, governmental agencies might not want to allocate special funding for such program in the church because government thinks everything happening in the church should have no funding from government. Since the church has not been considered to be funded by government, secular programs have taken advantage of this to write projects under such program in order to gain funding. The recovery industry is making money under the cover-up that they are helping people recover from their addictions. The church has closed its door to the addicts by virtue of its attitude to the addicts. The door is closed because addicts are afraid to share their feelings and struggles in the church because they feel that they will be condemned by church members or their names will be taken to the outside world. If addicts are thinking so, then; the church of Jesus Christ needs to reach out to addicts and to explain to them how the church cares for them. Not a day, some churches have spiritualized everything and failed to understand that though God delivers and heals through his word, but programs such as counseling should be put into place to counsel people who are suffering from addictions. The writer’s arguments or points in this matter are in place and such thing regarding counseling program in the church to help addicts should be recommended and supported. The writer comments that everyone who goes to church is a recovering addict because people who love shopping and working on multiple jobs are also addicts. If addiction is a self-destructive behavior exhibited by an individual over a prolong period of time, will working on multiple jobs to earn money and shopping in the grocery store for food be considered destructive? I don’t agree with the author on this matter by virtue of the reference made on these people. I do believe that in some points in time every human being has suffered from some addicted behavior which was very hard to break. For this reason, everyone who goes to church might be recovering in that sense, but not as those who are involved in self-destructive behavior such as drug, alcohol, or sexual addictions. There are three things which the writer outlined in the article such as worshiping God, giving thanks to him, and submitting to each others are instruments the church needs as Spirit-filled church to reach to the addicts and those who do not know Jesus.
In conclusion, the church of Jesus Christ can make the difference in the lives of the addicts knowing that the church has all available resources to reach lost souls for Christ. This is the concern expressed by the writer and this proposals or concern should be recommended and executed to reach people who are suffering from addictions. I will recommend this article to church leaders to read as to see where the church stands in matter concerning addicts in both the church and the world.