Drugs, sexual immorality, and violence…oh, my! What are we to do as our culture slips away from its relationship with Jesus Christ and wraps itself up in a constant overdose of physical sensations? This is nothing new…we all sin, and fall short of the grace of God. However, He patiently waits for you to decide to make a change and return to Him.
With a simple question, Jesus Christ restores the relationship with His Apostle, Peter, using a threefold confession of love even after Peter had directly denied Jesus three times in a horrible moment of doubt, fear and human weakness. Some have experienced what it's like to have all your friends abandon you when you're being attacked by others.
But Jesus never stops loving us. The love Jesus Christ has for us is not like what you see on a dating show, the cutesy “Love Ya” tossed into a text message, or the emotional rush of adrenaline you get when you are excited to see someone. It’s the fullness of pure love, expressed in the Greek word “Agape” (pronounced, “uh-gop-ay”). God's "Agape" form of love for us exists in the past, present, and future at the same time regardless of our actions or words.
In order to begin to comprehend “Agape” love, which is the word Christ used to start the conversation with His Apostle, Peter, we have to make some choices expressed through our actions. We often deny our relationship with Christ in our actions, exchanging it for relationships based on drugs, sexual immorality, and violence. However, there is always hope and opportunity for our relationship with our Savior to be restored. The key is to make a choice.
We are in the midst of starting a new year, so let’s take a moment to consider allowing Jesus Christ to restore our relationship with Him just like He did with His Apostle, Peter. The first step is to make a choice to love Christ, above all people (including friends and family) and above all addictions. We must freely choose to follow Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It’s challenging, especially when you are deeply swept away in a life of addictions, but it’s your choice.
If you suffer from addictions, the ball is in your court. God does not force Himself upon anyone, so you must choose to accept Him on His terms; not your terms. Reject the lies of the evil one, who tells you, “It’s OK if I inject that, give my body over to him/her, or get revenge for this…”. Accept the promise of love and restoration you can only find in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Do you feel like you’re in an impossible situation, and can’t change? Ignore that feeling...it's a lie planted in your head! Never give up, no matter how many times you have to try and retry! There is always hope, and people around to help you see the opportunities for change. The change may be difficult, but, with God, nothing is impossible.
If you are free of addictions, then you are in a rare and blessed situation. You have a great responsibility to help those who are suffering when they choose to make a change towards Christ. We must not look on those who suffer from addictions like they are beneath us; we are, in fact, beneath them. As we pray in Church, “I believe, O Lord, and I confess that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners; of whom, I am chief.” Just as Christ washed the feet of His Apostles in an example of our servitude, we must do the same with others.
As was taught by the Apostles of Jesus Christ during the earliest days of the Christian Church, there are two Ways; one of Life and one of Death. There is a great difference between the two Ways. The Way of Life is to love the God who made you, secondly, your neighbor as yourself; and do unto others what you would have done to you. The Way of Death is wicked and full of cursing with lusts, thefts, pride, malice, and a long list of evil words, thoughts and deeds. God, in his love for us, allows us to freely choose either Way.
Whether you are looking to break an addiction, or you have been called to help those who have decided to change and now need your service, let your actions communicate your choices…only use words when necessary.
God bless you in this coming year, and may you experience God’s eternal and infinite Agape!
Rev. Anthony Bryant, MS, PMP
Pastor, Saint Katherine Orthodox Church
Phone: (803) 530-4851
1050 Clay Hill Road, Pelion, SC 29123