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  • Writer's pictureLes Schaefer

How to explain recovery to someone

8 Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the Lord to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.” 9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” 10 And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God. 11 The frogs shall go away from you and your houses and your servants and your people. They shall be left only in the Nile.” 12 So Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the Lord about the frogs, as he had agreed with Pharaoh. 13 And the Lord did according to the word of Moses. The frogs died out in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields. 14 And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

You may not know anything about recovery. Today I want to introduce you to Grace Alcohol Recovery and why it is important for church and our community. Today’s text shows Pharoah, who, in order to get away from the torment of the frogs, told Moses ‘Ok, I admit I messed up and your God is right.’ But, then when he sees things being back to normal, he hardens his heart and would not listen to them. This is the life of recovery.

Jesus Calls Levi

27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” [1]

This is also the life of recovery. Two sides of the same coin. How than can Grace Alcohol Recovery connect these two sides to walk with addicts as redeemed children of God…which they are.

First, we need to realize that Jesus died for all. He even died form Pharoah. He died for Matthew. He died for Matthew’s friends. He died for the Pharisees who disagreed with Jesus’ eating with the outcasts. He died for you and me. Luther has a fancy word called passive righteousness. It took him till he was in his 50’s to completely understand it. Most of his life was trying to be as perfect as he could be…and punishing himself because he was not sure God would save him. Passive righteousness is the truth that we are saved through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. We have to do nothing to earn God’s favor. People in alcohol recovery need to hear that message. It is the truth of the gospel. Paul says in Romans that nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus. This blessed assurance is the cornerstone of our lives.

Second, the power of stubbornness is part of working in recovery. That is why step 1 says that ‘I admit I am powerlessness and my life has become uncontrollable.’ I can remember how stubborn my family was with not admitting they were powerless to alcohol. I could point out so many examples of this stubbornness. I could point to so many times I have been so stubborn. Addicts will often tell you what you want to hear. ‘ Ok, I will stop.’ That response is usually to get people off their backs. Pharoah responds the same way to Moses. How do I know that they are just lying? Because Pharoah hardened his heart to God. Because addicts harden their hearts to Jesus and all around them who want to help them get clean.

Third, the addict needs a safe place to sit and be with Jesus as they walk on this journey. Despite the fact that they are stubborn, they long for salvation from their addiction. Salvation is hard to see. It is too hard to do. It is definitely too hard to do with people standing around them in judgement. Even when it is a safe place to admit your addiction, it is not easy. Jesus shows us in Luke how safe places to sit at His feet is most important to Him. It is just as important now. Grace Alcohol Recovery gives people in recovery a safe place to share, heal, and sit at Jesus’ feet with no judgement. I am sure there was no judgement from Jesus among Matthew’s friends….and those were scary friends to be around. They looked different, sounded different, and had a lifestyle that was pretty bad. Jesus is offering the same time for those in recovery here at Grace Alcohol Recovery. Our vision and mission statements are the following:

Vision Statement: The vision of Grace Alcohol Recovery is to encourage those in addiction to become ‘clean’, empower them to stay ‘clean’, and enlighten them to the Gospel of Jesus and the freedom He through His death and resurrection.

Mission Statement: The mission of Grace Alcohol Recovery is to offer a safe place for addicted people to attend meetings centered in the biblical applications of the 12 steps of recovery. It will provide a support group to help them learn tools to stay ‘clean’, be accountable to staying ‘clean’, and provide spiritual support during this time of recovery.

Lastly, the stubbornness is not only in the addicts, but also in the people on the outside looking in. This is also shown in Luke’s story of the calling of Matthew. Luke says:

And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” [2]

The Pharisees are just as stubborn as Pharoah. But what is interesting is that the Pharisees never even try to say ‘Ok I will stop being judgmental. I will try to act differently.’ At least Pharoah tried….even deep down it was a lie. The Pharisees don’t even do that.

This is not the easy part of telling others about Grace Alcohol Recovery. Judgements, no matter how in target they may be, is not going to help these people. Judgements, no matter how much we are right in doing so, is not the way Jesus acted with Matthew’s friends. Stubbornness does not help spread the light of Jesus, which is what we are called to do as redeemed children of God. Judging others for being judgmental is not right either. We are all saved by grace. Jesus died for all. The power of stubbornness infects all of us. And it gets in the way of spreading Jesus’ love to all.

Let’s go back to the first point…Jesus died for all. The power of that love is stronger than any stubbornness. It is stronger than any addiction. Once, someone asked me ‘So, if people just find Jesus, then they will be healed from alcohol? I don’t see any concrete method in this.’ My response is yes! Why? Because Jesus can heal people….no matter what disease it is. Alcoholism is a disease, even if people do not agree. Jesus said he came for the sick. He did not continue with a grand plan to heal them. In fact, often they were healed and people did not know how it was possible. Grace Alcohol Recovery follows steps to get ‘clean’ and to keep clean. But ultimately it is Jesus’ work and Jesus’ mission. We can try to convince ourselves that we are in control of this mission. But that is narrowminded. Jesus reminds us of something that many hear and scoff at.

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. [3]

Grace Alcohol Recovery is God’s mission. With a faith like a mustard seed, this mission will be fruitful….for His glory.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 5:27–32. [2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 5:30–32. [3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 17:5–6.

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