A Call for the Christian Church to Rise up and Battle Opioid Addiction
By David Julen
According to theologian, Fisher Humphreys, evil comes in two forms. First, actions that we take that are wrong, those that we know are wrong, that we are free not to take, yet, we do it anyway. In the church we call these actions sins. For these actions, the church proclaims we are to preach repentance and forgiveness. As followers of Jesus, we are to repent of our sins and seek forgiveness.
Secondly, evil reveals itself through evil powers which oppress us. These evil powers could be hostile governments, sickness and suffering, crime, violence, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, domestic violence and many other results of living in a fallen world. In these areas, the church proclaims we are to be agents of deliverance. The biblical word “redemption” comes to mind, which means liberated or set free from hostile forces or powers. The greatest redemption of the Old Testament was God’s liberation of his people from Egypt.
Addictions, though in some cases beginning willingly, soon take the second form of evil. The church is called to preach repentance and forgiveness, but in addition, to be agents of liberation and redemption in our world.
Jesus spoke of giving his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45) and Paul refers to Christians as having been “bought with a price” (1 Corin. 6:20). So if we have been bought with a price, (Redeemed and Forgiven, Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14) the question is, to what are we redeemed and liberated? The answer is the redeemed life, or as Paul writes….”walking in the newness of life”…..Romans 6:4, or..” to those who are being saved… the fragrance of life…” (2 Corin. 2:15). The suffering of addiction is the…” smell of death…” (2 Corin. 2:16) that takes away from the life that God desires for his people.
We recognize that but for the grace of God many of us may be ensnared by the hold of addiction. We recognize that the sins of rage, anger, greed, lust, gossip, slander and many others are as destructive and difficult to overcome as addiction, and we all struggle daily to overcome them.
As people of faith, we are called to mobilize our forces to be agents of God’s redemption and deliverance in our communities. We recognize the terrible destructiveness of all addictions but want to particularly highlight the pain that comes from opioid addiction.
The destructiveness of opioid addiction is often hidden because it can begin as a means for healing and help, to lessen and heal pain, but can become demonic and destructive in its ability to demean and destroy life.
Jesus commissions the church to be on a mission of deliverance and redemption and promises his disciples that the gates of Hell cannot stand against it (Matt. 16:18). This is a picture of a church on the offensive (Matt. 11:12) against the powers of darkness and addiction, not one waiting inside behind a closed door for someone in need to perhaps find their way in. We believe that community is a vital component in the plan to battle and escape addiction. At its best, the church offers this type of community; one that accepts you as a fellow sinner but won’t let you off the hook when one indulges the addiction. We are called to courageously speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and to walk humbly with all of those that are suffering under the powers that oppress us.