A friend of ours is dealing with addiction. This is not an addiction to illegal substances, but an addiction to legal substances. It is an addiction none-the-less.
Because of some current circumstances, our friend has been separated from this addiction for over a month, and will be separated for several more weeks. Many friends have been trying to help break this addiction. Or friend recently told me, “I don’t want to give up X. It might be good for me, but I like X.”
But I like X.
Isn’t this the source of many of our problems? We refuse to stop doing something because we like it. We refuse to start doing something because we don’t like it. Our likes and dislikes become the deciding factor concerning what we do or don’t do. In reality, we become our own master – our own lord – our own god.
I was reminded of this recently when we read through Philippians:
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:17-21 ESV)
Paul had just told the Philippians that he was willing to give up everything that was important to him – everything that formed his identity even – in order to know Christ.
But, what about those who cling to what they like? Paul says that they are “enemies of the cross of Christ”. I’ll admit it: I’m often an enemy of the cross. It’s true. Many times I choose what I’m going to do based on what I like – my belly becomes my god. And, at that time, I “walk as an enemy of the cross of Christ”.
Of course, there are times when obeying Christ that we do things that we like. It’s not as if the Christian life is all drudgery. In fact, I usually enjoy the things that God wants me to do. However, our “likes” cannot be the deciding factor in the way that we live. When we do some things we like, we may be following Christ. But, when we do some things we like, we may be walking away from Christ.
When I first explained this to my friend, there was very little recognition that this passage could be applied in this situation. My friend refused to be recognized as an “enemy of the cross”. Instead, my friend simply repeated, “But I like X”.
My friend talked to my wife a couple of days ago. In the midst of the conversation, my friend said, “Pray that I would no longer have a desire for X”. This is the first step away from living life based on “But, I like X”.
By the way, I’m not the only person to talk to our friend about this addiction. It’s great to see the community helping someone break this grip on our friend’s life, and it’s great to see our friend finally asking the community for help.