The god of This Age

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:4

Recently, Pennsylvania renewed the opioid disaster crisis declaration. 

A declaration? All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put humpty dumpty back together again.

How do we resolve the opioid crisis?

The first step is to get to the root of the problem. It is not a disease, which conventional wisdom, broadcast all over the place, says it is. As Hitler said, tell a lie enough times and people will start believing it. Drug addiction is sin, besetting sin.

Opioid and other addictions are a matter of idolatry, the worship of false gods. We worship false gods by not accepting, worshipping what God graciously gives us, but trying to find satisfaction outside of the kingdom of God. Habitually overindulging in food, even something as innocuous as cupcakes is an example of this.

Wanting to have someone of the opposite sex as a mate to share your life with is good. But when you expect that a mate will give you something that only God can give you, then he or she becomes an idol, a false God. Also, God must be put first and God must be in the relationship, as are Godly principles, such as considering the other person more important than yourself – putting your spouse first.

One of the false Gods, drug abuse promises satisfaction, but delivers nothing but misery, and eventually an early death.  As Paul Revere and the Raiders sang in Kicks:

Girl, you thought you found the answer
On that magic carpet ride last night
But when you wake up in the mornin
The world still gets you uptight
Well, there’s nothin’ that you ain’t tried
To fill the emptiness inside
When you come back down, girl
Still ain’t feelin’ right

And don’t it seem like
Kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find
And all your kicks ain’t bringin’ you peace of mind
Before you find out it’s too late, girl
You better get straight
No, but not with kicks you just need help, girl

Well you think you’re gonna find yourself

A little piece of paradise

But it ain’t happened yet, so girl, you better think twice

Don’t you see no matter what you do

You’ll never run away from you

And if you keep on runnin‘ you’ll have to pay the price

Looking for satisfaction (which Mic Jagger sang he could not get) in all the wrong places – through drugs, makes you broke, lose your home, fosters prostitution, and alienates people. The drug user becomes very lonely – creates a self-imposed solitary confinement even in a crowd.

King David, after committing the sin of adultery, found himself in the pit of despair, into a great depression:

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.…  -Psalm 32: 3,4

But when he confessed his sin to God, David was restored, healed:

Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me–now let me rejoice. –Psalm 51:8

Likewise, drug addicts can become clean, healed, restored to the way God made them by turning to God. Recently, a drug addict in Bucks County, PA who had abused drugs off and on for years, who became homeless for a season, who was headed for destruction, responded to God’s call and is now clean. Consequently, she is getting her life together, is more peaceful, and is a much more likeable person.

Who Do You Love?

The Romans were copycats. They adopted Greek gods and gave them Roman names. In the case of literature, Virgil’s Roman rewrite of Homer’s The Odyssey, The Aeneid was an improvement, at least the Roman version of The Land of the Lotus Eaters scene, where Odysseus and his men smoked opium in the poppy fields with some old men.

Odysseus had to get he and his men’s rear in gear and leave the field in order to take care of business at home.

In the Roman version, the hero finds himself in a cave with a beautiful woman. She doesn’t want him to leave, but he has to drag himself away to found Rome. Even back then, the Italians were quite romantic.

If I were to choose which version I could be in, I choose romancing a woman than sitting around a bunch of old farts doing dope.

I was taken aback when a recovering addict told me that a druggie would rather be in the Land of the Lotus Eaters doing dope than romancing a woman.

For addicts, drugs become the focus of their life, the center of their being. I read a testimony of a recovering addict in Narcotics Anonymous where the writer said that he had no moral compass when he was an addict —  that he would steal from his own mother to get a fix. The only thing that mattered in his life was getting high.

Today, Bucks County, PA has the highest heroin addiction rate in Pennsylvania, second in the U.S.

Why all the addictions? Like the guys in the ancient stories, it’s an escape from responsibility, the duties of everyday life. The root of this is character flaws, a result of sin. Addictions can never fully satisfy you, and you are on a lifelong quest for the Holy Grail, which is a fantasy. As Paul Revere and the Raiders said in Kicks:

“Kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find
And all your kicks ain’t bringin’ you peace of mind”

As the Raiders continue:

“No, you don’t need kicks
To help you face the world each day
That road goes nowhere
I’m gonna help you find yourself another way”

There is another way. Right here in Bucks County is a free, drop in program, one Tuesday nights in Levittown and Saturday nights in Newtown.

Ask yourself what, or who do you love? How far would you go? Would you, in the words of Bo Diddley, “walk forty-seven miles of barbed wire?”  And for what?

Getting Straight

“Kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find
(Oh, you don’t need kicks, girl)
And all your kicks ain’t bringin’ you peace of mind
(You just need help, girl)
Before you find out it’s too late, girl
You better get straight”

— Paul Revere and the Raiders Kicks

Addictions are a result of a human character flaw. The only way to completely over come an addiction, as a recovering addict recently said, is by turning it over to the Lord. There are many other manifestations of character flaws as a result of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.

As a former homeless man in lower Bucks County used to say, “we all have baggage.” To remove the garbage in our lives, we need a higher power than ourselves. In John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress, an allegory about the journey of the soul, the character “Evangelist” points up to God.

Not only do we need God to restore us to the way we are supposed to be, we need each other. There is no such thing as the Lone Ranger Christian.

“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

— Romans 12:4-5

Whether you have a problem with excessive alcohol, drugs, anger management, resentment, anxiety, depression or any other malady, you are not alone. God wants people to help one another. He gave individuals various talents they can use to help their brothers and sisters.

Although Christians have a common bond, namely Jesus, we are not clones and are not alone.

Originally the disciples spread the gospel by word of mouth, much like the oral tradition of the homeless in lower Bucks County, PA. Fast forward several centuries when Martin Luther started, and Guttenberg facilitated with the printing press, the tradition where Christians read scripture and learn God’s Word for themselves. The gospel further went out and people became more personally accountable for their faith.

Today our society is decaying, as a result of people straying from God.

The church has always been in conflict with the world. It’s been a constant battle. This is why the apostle Paul, the letter writer to the churches and the boys visited the early churches to check to see that their teachings and actions were in sync with God.

Some people think they can become the way God wants them just by dealing with God on their own. Certainly, we all need a personal relationship with the Lord, but should not forgo the assembly of saints, as God has commanded for our good.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the light. This is really the only way we can be made right.

Personal problems, issues are a result of people not listening to God and living their lives according to his Word. God knows better than we do how we should live. He made us and wrote the manual for us — the Bible.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”

-Proverbs 3:5

I find that I am encouraged to keep the faith when I go to church and attend Bible studies. The church I attend encourages us to learn what God is telling us through scripture and to maintain a personal relationship with God through prayer, fellowship, songs of worship, and studying his Word.

The 12 Steps program, which uses a Biblical basis for the original program started by AA back in the day, has also been a big help in my healing process. I didn’t have a drug or alcohol addiction but my attitude and accompanying behavior was just as destructive.

Restoring us, throwing out our garbage, is an ongoing process. It’s a constant battle between my will and God’s, and like Gunny Tom Highway (Clint Eastwood) in Heartbreak Ridge, He will win.

God has made a covenant with his people. God’s covenant is not like a human contract, where if one party breaks a promise the other can back out. In God’s covenant, even if we mess up and break the contract, God still honors his covenant with us.

“I will never leave you or forsake you,”