Goaling to be a Godly unicorn
Greetings, this is the follow up blog from my previous installment, I will be responding with ways that we can engage in the transformation process. I will also be exposing how sin has influences those processes, and how we can defeat sin under Christ’s power through them.
First, here is an article about an addiction group called Synanon, and their approach to addiction treatment.
The Recovery Revolution: The Battle Over Addiction Treatment in the United States, by Claire Clark, Columbia University…reason.com
In this article, Maia Szalavitz, explains how the Synanon group used humiliating practices to demolish addictions in their clients. In the eighth paragraph, she explains that Synanon treated addictions like illnesses, and also approached addiction as a character defect. The tactics used, involved sleep deprivation, verbal abuse, shaming, dehumanizing, and food deprivation- as a manner in which “to erase a person’s old identity” (Szalavitz, 8).
Obviously, sin has impacted the way in which we approach issues like addictions, it is never God’s purpose for us to treat other people with such disrespect. In fact, God has made it clear that we are made in His image (Genesis 1:27), we are precious to Him which means we have been bought by Him with a price by Hi Son (1 Corinthians 6:20), and He loves us even in our sin (Romans 5:8). God does not hate us when we are engaged in an addiction. He loves us, no matter what.
Addictions come between us and our relationship with God, not His ability to love us and His relationship of love for us. Spiritual disciplines, also called pathways, or practices can grow our relationship with God. Amidst the pain,
shame, and momentarily gratifying gain of any certain addiction, we need to recognize that that habit inhibits our opportunity to experience God more fully.
What does it look like to experience God more fully? It should be a little different for each of us, because we all worship our One God, but we each are individually growing a relationship with Him — based on who we are as distinctive human beings. We each sin, and fall under the curse of the law which tells us that we could never do enough holy and righteous things to earn our salvation (Romans 3:23).
One of ways we can begin to experience God, is to understand our brokenness, which means accepting that we are condemned sinners. As a loving God, He must be just in His rewards and punishments for those under His care — which means that we cannot stand due to our ungodliness. “Ungodliness describes an attitude toward God” and it is a sin that all people share since we all have perversions in our thoughts of our attitude towards God (Bridges, 53).
Jerry Bridges, wrote a book entitled Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins we Tolerate. In his book, he goes through how we live sinful lives in our hearts, small communities, and attitudes rather than radical sins the church usually makes a big deal over. In chapter 7, he explains our connection to the sin of ungodliness, and how it affects each one of us. Ungodliness, is anything against God, and our sin stems from turning away from the plan God originally had for us, His people.
One of the main themes of this chapter is placing God at the “center and focal point of” our everyday lives (58). While we are becoming God focused, we reject our innate ungodliness, and begin to experience more of the rich grace that has been showered on our lives.
There are many ways to incorporate our lives with a vision for centering them around God. The most basic practices that almost any church will give its congregation are those of: reading the Scriptures, taking communion, being baptized, praying daily, and fellowshipping with other believers.
The stated list above is usually as far as we ever get (which, I mean, reading the Bible is a huge priority — so you should do it), but there are so many other connective pathways to grow in your relationship with God as well.
Here is a list and short description of a few ways in which we can place a heightened focus on God.
1. Silence and Solitude.
Spending time alone, asking the Spirit to guide your thoughts, in a place where the noise of life is drowned out through the silence and solitude. This practice opens an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to guide your thought processes, instead of the busyness, plan-making, attention taking world we live in.
This practice is something that involves choosing to live according to the Spirit in grateful admiration and celebration for the work the God is doing in your life. This practice means actively turning your thoughts to ways in which you can be grateful to God, and recognizing His presence in your life.
3. Scripture Memorization.
This practice is exactly what is sounds like, taking the Bible, and hiding it in your heart so that the words can be ingrained in your head, and flow through your actions because they are inside of you to guide you in any and every situation.
4. Prayer Journaling, and even Coloring.
In prayer, sometimes to help focus your mind, you can write out the words of your heart, or even draw/color them into being. God delights when we open the communication of prayer, and we should be open to multiple approaches to prayer, so that we learn how we best connect to God in our prayers. Rather than failing and refusing to pray when prayer feels weak, or hard to focus in, we should look at ways we can pursue God in our prayers so that we can be actively communicating with Him.
5. Lectio Divina.
This practice is a meditation on a single Scripture passage, or verse. This practice focuses our thoughts on the Word, and helps us understand and connect to the life-giving Scripture that we all can access. This form of study in the Scriptures can allow the Word to permeate your thoughts, and grow your love for God
This pathway, can allow you to recognize a choice of letting go something you normally do, eat, or think which can open your eyes to the free time and opportunities to engage with God when you would have been doing what you are fasting from. This is a practice that can show you your dependence on things on this world rather than Christ, and the need to further depend on God.
This is a practice where you intentionally slow down your life, so that you are more aware of everything surrounding you and the presence of God rather than the busyness, and fast paced society we live in. This is a way to honor the limits and margins of our lives. That way, we can meet God during the day-not just at our quiet time of Bible reading.
This is a discipline that can give you eyes to see needs that you have missed before. Your focus will start to engage with others over yourself. God desires to use our talents, and resources for His purpose, that why He gave them to us — this is a way for us to recognize how to invest what we have been given into the kingdom of God.
9. Spending time in Nature.
This pathway is designed to connect your heart with the creation of God. We need to remember how God is the Creator of the beautiful world we live in, and we can learn to experience Him in those walks around a garden, or hike on a mountain trail. Your perspective can become larger, and your receptivity to God’s design will be evident.
10. Contemplation and Study on Scripture.
This practice is different than lectio divina, and regular Bible reading, this practice involves understanding the interpretation and implications of Scripture. Studying to understand and live in an understanding of the Word. Looking at original languages, meanings, historical contexts, and purposes for writing. This practice has been suggested regularly here at LBC, and is most important for your own personal development of understanding Scripture for yourself.
This is not a full list.
These practices can help you in your relationship with God, and can help ease the pain of addictions in your life. When you replace addiction with something greater — and you trust in God, who is greater than all sins and addictions combined, you can be healed and be free.