Where There is Hope
There is a myth in our nation, that many subscribe to, which affirms that Christ and the spiritual make no real difference in how people live their lives. Without Christ, one can pursue and have the good life without the influence that comes from faith and Scripture. If this were true, then the pursuit of the desires of the flesh should offer the same satisfaction, the same peace of mind, the same joyful existence, that spiritual values promise. While many live by this philosophy, is it true?
A 2017 survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) suggests otherwise. Based on their research, 1.7 million Americans are addicted to prescription painkillers. Opioid addictions claim more than 140 lives a day. 19.7 million adults (19 and over) have a substance abuse disorder. 74% of adults struggling with substance abuse also abuse alcohol. 1 of 8 adults have alcohol and drug use issues at the same time. 8.5 million Americans have a substance abuse disorder, or mental health issue, or both. 740 billion dollars of cost are associated with lost time in the workplace, healthcare costs, and crime related costs due to such abuse. This doesn’t sound like a society that has effectively replaced the spiritual with fleshly activities.
Now, we must acknowledge none of those addicted to either prescription or illicit drug use intended to become an addict. It must also be acknowledged that there are many who turn to such as coping mechanisms for life. If nothing else, the world’s value system has not offered a better way to live, to deal with the issues of life, in place of spiritual values that are part of one’s conscience and lifestyle. This is because the world’s value system is governed by sin, and sin can only offer a cheap and self-destructive substitute for what God created us to have in Him. It makes grand promises, but it only leads one down a path that ultimately brings condemnation. Paul warned that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
We also must acknowledge that, for everyone who falls into the pit of sin, who is caught up in, and enslaved by such things, God loves, and that Christ died to set them free. Jesus said He came to offer an abundant life, so it reasonable to understand that kind of life can only be found in Him, not in the world apart from Him. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36).
In Christ, we have promises of something better than the condemnation of sin. In Christ, we have a love that will forgive and set us on a better path, a new path that offers life that reflects our real image, the image of God who created us. In Christ, we have a community of believers to encourage each other, as we know we all have issues with sin. We can help each other against the temptations of the flesh, whatever they may be, and live for what lies ahead in eternity. These statistics are both reflective of a world gone wrong, but of those who need a real help, a real hope, in New Testament Christianity. What a difference we can make if we show others what Christ can really do in one’s life, if we help them find the truth that can really set them free, if we allow God to work His will in us. “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:13-15).
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”