Sunday, April 10, 2016
People who abuse substances are not sinners. The most commonly consumed substance is caffeine. However, you are not a sinner if you drink coffee.
In our churches, we have this idea that if someone abuses substances, they are automatically a sinner. That is simply not true. The Bible says that nothing that goes into someone’s body can make them unclean, it is what comes out of a man’s body that makes him unclean (Mark 7:14-23).
It is not our consumption, what goes into us, that is sinful. It is our decisions, our actions, those things that come out of us as a result of that consumption, that can be sinful.
It is not our place to judge people because of their consumption. They live under grace just as we do and we know that just because everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial. The abuse of alcohol consumption, for example, can produce health problems, psychological problems, as well as problems with relationships, jobs, money, etc.
There are people in our communities struggling with substance abuse every single day. These people are not sinners, they are not lost. They are stuck, they are alone. And these people are in need of help and mercy and grace. We as Christians are not called to judge those who are trapped in addiction and substance abuse. We are called to help them and to love them, as God loved us even in our own darkest moments.
If you catch someone in a sin, you are called to come up alongside them in gentleness and love and correct them. Cruelty is not what God calls us to; wisdom, discernment, and gentleness are.
A load is what you can handle. A burden is more than you can handle. We are called to help each other carry burdens but not to take on each other’s loads. Addictions and substance abuse are burdens, often the result of that aforementioned aloneness, that perception and feeling of not having anyone. They are God’s children; Christ loves and died for them, just as He did for anyone else.