I’m not a friend of Bill’s and I’ve never been to an AA meeting. However I have read a number of books written by members of AA and also books about AA. I think people who practice the 12 steps are some of the most spiritual folks around and I often wonder if all us shouldn’t use them as a guide to Christian living. After all, don’t we all suffer from addiction to sin?
Imagine what would happen if we got up in front of a group of people on some regular basis and said, “My name is (fill in the blank) and I’m a sinner.” I know, we confess every week as part of the worship service, but that can easily become rote and meaningless. Many of us say the words (at least some of the time) without really thinking about them.
Imagine how it would feel to regularly do a “fearless moral inventory.” You know, actually admitting and taking responsibility for the sins we have committed, instead of sweeping them under the rug and hoping we could just “move on” by ignoring them and hoping they never come out into the light.
Imagine what the world would be like if we actually tried to make amends to people when we wronged them. Saying “I’m sorry and I’ll try not to do that again” can mean a lot if it’s sincere. Doing what we can to correct the situation we created means even more.
What if we tried, actually tried to be open to God’s leading and grow closer to Him? What would happen if prayer became a priority in every Christian’s life? Not something reserved for Sundays, but an integral part of each day.
Suppose, having worked through the steps ourselves, we committed to carrying the gospel message to others? Not because it’s our duty as a good church member, but because we knew what relief and peace it would bring to many suffering souls?
These are some of the things AA promotes and that addicts who are “working the program” do. It doesn’t work for everyone, because as one author says,
“Many less desperate alcoholics tried AA, but did not succeed because they could not make the admission of hopelessness.”
In other words, they have to hit bottom. The same is true of Christians. We know we have a problem with sin, but we have the mistaken illusion that we’ve got it under control. We can live with it. It causes some problems but nothing we can’t handle. Well, read the sermon on the mount (our sermon topic last Sunday) and think again. If you’re angry with someone, you’re on the path to murder; if you insult your brother by calling him a fool you’ve born false witness, when you look at someone lustfully, you’re in danger of adultery; if you divorce (no matter if it’s legal or amicable) you’ve broken a covenant relationship. We all have done these kinds of things and more. We can’t manage our sin on our own. We need a Savior.
Think of the church as “Sinners Anonymous.” Take the first step and admit the hopelessness and helplessness of your life without Christ. Then live like someone who knows things have to change. I’m going to try to.