What's YOUR addiction?
Last weekend the DJ/musician Avicii (age 28) and "mini-me" actor Verne Troyer (age 49) both died of alcohol-related issues. These were tragic deaths related to an addiction, so I wanted to provide some perspective. Perhaps alcohol isn't your poison, but Christians - and our Christian counselors at 1st Principle Group - have more to say than simply, "Just say no." We can't speak to Avicii and Verne's issues, and had we interviewed them, they wouldn't say they were "addicted," or that alcohol was their poison.
And I would agree.
But there's more to consider. You've heard the phrase, "Once an addict; always an addict." That's not the case. While some people identify by their addictions, scripture says otherwise:
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." - 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
So, despite the sin habit - and despite people identifying themselves as "alcoholics" or "drug addicts" or "pervs" or whatever, Jesus Christ can wipe away that label.
And for that reason, we should look at these addictions through a different grid. According to Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City:
"Addictions are good things that have become ultimate things in our lives."
In other words, addictions are not necessarily evil: sex is good. Food is good. Money's good. Loving your children is good. Even if we look at the more destructive addictions like getting high on alcohol or meth (okay, this is probably a stretch) - but it's all coming from a reasonable desire to feel good.
It's when we elevate our desires above God that the problems start. Gambling creates excitement and thrills but it starts to change your biology. We know from studying brain scans that porn addiction actually rewires your brain.
Everyone has something they're elevating above God:
- Children (parenthood)
- Financial Security
We all have something. Our hearts are an "idol factory," creating things to worship. Things to soothe and provoke us. Things that give us meaning and significance.
How to Find Your Addiction
You know that you have an idol (AKA addiction) when:
One, the idol is threatened, and your emotions spike more than normal. That is, yes, if you threaten my children or my wife, you're going to get a big response. But I'm talking about a response that's inordinate to the threat. For example, a dad exploding at an umpire's bad call at his son's baseball game.
Second, what do you envy? If you were truly satisfied in Christ, you would be grateful, and envy wouldn't have a place.
Third, what you don't have to think about anything, where does your mind go? What does it long for? What are those default thoughts?
Fourth, how do you spend your money that seems unusual? This points to what you value, where you find your self worth.
See if that helps determine what you may be addicted to. Later we'll go deeper and see which things are becoming idols, and how we can kill our idols. For now, review the above and see where that takes you.