The Trickiest Sin
Over the years, I’ve met many people in the church who were addicted to something. Some of them were addicted to a substance like drugs or alcohol, while others were addicted to a particular behavior. Their addiction affected them in different ways, but the all had one thing in common: they did not feel free enough to speak about their problems in church. Maybe they could tell me as their minister, but they rarely if ever felt free enough to share their struggle with anyone else in the congregation.
A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a therapist here in Raleigh about those particular kinds of challenges that people with addictions face. What struck me most is what the therapist said that churches could do to support people who are struggling with very difficult issues such as addiction. I’d invite you to watch that interview now, paying particular attention to what churches can do to help.
Dr. Bixler says, “Establishing connection is a thing churches can do to show grace to these people.” One of the key things that churches can do to support people with addiction is to be a supportive and encouraging community. And that is a truth that doesn’t just apply to people who are addicted to something. That’s a truth that applies to all people. When we are struggling with sin, whatever it is, the support of a church community is vital.
Hebrews 3:13 tells us “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews says that each and every day, the encouragement of our brothers and sisters in community is one of the key ways that we recognize and resist the deceitfulness of sin. The tragedy is that many of us are too afraid to be honest with others when we are struggling with sin. God offers us community, and instead we are content with superficiality. God offers us the chance to be known by others as we truly are, and we are content with don’t-ask-don’t-tell. We think that this process of encouraging one another to resist sin is dangerous or scary, and on one level it is. But on a much deeper level it is a gift that God gives us so that we can live the best lives that God has for us, and the tragedy is that we let that gift sit unopened because we are afraid to unwrap it.
If there is a behavior that you want to break but haven’t been able to, and you worry that you might be addicted to it, please talk to me or to one of the other ministers. We’d love to point you to resources that can help. You can also go to foresthills.org/addiction, which is a confidential form that will come to me. If you’re a family member or friend of someone with an addiction, the same is true for you—fill out that form at foresthills.org/addiction, mark that you’re a friend or a family member, and I’ll be in touch. If that’s you, do not let yourself be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness today.
Finally, if this topic of addiction has touched your heart specifically, and if you’re interested in making our church a space where people can come for help with their addictions, I’d also encourage you to go to foresthills.org/addiction. There’s a spot to indicate that you’re interested in helping to start a new team within the Serve Council to help address this issue in our community. I don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like or what form it will take, and the people who respond will help to shape the nature of the team. But it’s important work, and if you want to be a part of it we’d love to have you!