You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?—James 2:19-21
I’ve been a Christian long enough to know that addictions can be harmful to your spiritual health. I’ve heard preachers rail against different addictions for over thirty years, telling me to keep my mind and body pure from evil, worldly pleasures. But now that I’m middle-aged, I think I’m spiritually wise enough to enjoy an addiction of my own choosing without too much harm. I mean, what’s it going to do? Kill me? Heck, I’m closer to death now than when I first begun.
The question is: What kind of addiction to I want to take up?
How about smoking cigarettes? No, that’s out. I don’t like the smell of stale smoke on other people’s clothes, much less my own. Besides, smoking and being the lead pastor of a church still doesn’t settle well in people’s minds.
Maybe drinking? Then the question arises, “Drinking what?” Most churches still condemn even a glass of wine in the evening, as simple as that is, but have nothing against drinking three liters of Coke a day, as awful as THAT is. However, I’m not a big fan of carbonated drinks, so that’s out. How about milk? I used to like milk. Then I see a gallon of milk is almost as much as a pack of cigarettes, so I figure there has to be a less expensive addiction to get involved in. And my Lord knows I don’t need to put on any more weight.
How about gambling? That’s an easy “No.” Not that I don’t gamble already. I do so every time I pay my car insurance or go to the movies (When was the last time you paid to see a movie in the theater and thought, “That wasn’t worth it?” It was a gamble going in, right?). I don’t want to gamble at the casinos because I don’t find it very entertaining. If I’m going to be addicted to something, it ought to be something I enjoy doing.
Finally, in my study of the book of James, I came across an addiction worthy of my time and effort. I noticed that demons and most Christians have the same belief, that there is one God in heaven. In fact, where most Christians don’t even give that fact much attention, the demons at least tremble at the thought. It seems the demons are more respectful of the magnitude of God than some Christians are.
But here’s the difference that leads to my chosen addiction. The demons believe and tremble but do not change their ways, whereas Christians should not just hear the Word, but obey it. Therefore, I choose to be addicted to obedience.
The basis of the word “addict” means to “deliver, devote, yield.” This is how I want to be in my obedience to God. I don’t want to be like the demons and just believe the creed of Deut. 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” I actually want to live it in a way that makes a difference in my life and the lives of others.
I’ve discovered that a saving faith in God is not an intellectual acceptance of a certain theology. It goes deeper than that, involving the whole person and showing itself in a changed life. Therefore, if what I believe does not change what I do and the way I behave, then it scares me to think I’m not much better off than the demons that believe but don’t obey.
Therefore, I chose obedience. I choose to be addicted, delivering myself over, devoted and yielding to the temptation and pull of obedience every time it comes my way. As I read the Scriptures, I see that Abraham, Daniel, Jesus and Paul all lived this same way. I figure if I, too, can get addicted to obedience, then I’ll be in good company.