‘That’s silly’ said Ned. Ned described himself as a ‘recovering alcoholic’ and ‘a Christian’.
Ned was responding to a friend’s comment that she would go to church when she got her act together.
‘Imagine if I only sought help or went to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) when I recovered or had it together’ Ned replied. ‘I doubt I would have ever become sober in the first place and if I did I would not have needed AA. I just wasn’t like those people who could drink occasionally or stop after a couple’.
Ned then went on to make an astonishing declaration. ‘I am thankful that I became an alcoholic because it revealed to me my deepest needs and led to me discovering and embracing the ultimate solutions. Thirteen years ago I had to deal with my pride. I didn’t want to admit I had deep seated issues. I was in denial. I also raged against the ‘Big Book’ and ‘12 steps’ that AA uses where it states we need to depend upon a higher power. I wanted to be in control. But as my life continued to spiral down, I knew it was either self destruct or face the truth. I needed help’!
Ned shared that while he still has many challenges in his life, he lives one day at a time and is a very different person. ‘I lost my pride, but ended up gaining everything. Knowing the love of God who made himself known in the life, sufferings, death and triumphs of Jesus Christ is everything to me. I ended up losing the things destroying me and discovered God, a new community and a new way of living as I got real with who this higher power or God is’.
Ned then quoted Jesus to his friend. She said that it was at that moment that a light switched on in her heart or mind. Jesus said “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32; see also Mark 2:13; Matt 9:13)
Ned’s friend could have easily been the woman in Bob Dylan's song ‘Man in the long black coat’:
“Preacher was talking there's a sermon he gave
He said every man's conscience is vile and depraved
You cannot depend on it to be your guide
When it's you who must keep it satisfied
It ain't easy to swallow it sticks in the throat
She gave her heart to the man in the long black coat”
The bible is clear ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ (Rom 3:23). Not just the alcoholic or narcotic addict, but all, including and perhaps especially those who think they are better than others and who blindly, yet self-righteously, look down on others.
I have found in my ministry that the biblical message that we are all flawed resonates with nearly everyone. The question is will we accept the free forgiveness and divine help that is available in and through God’s self sacrifice in Christ Jesus and come home to our God who loves us and wants the best for us, now and forever? Ned’s friend later said ‘Jesus doesn’t need my or anyone's help. After all He is God, so what could I do for Him? Rather he loves to give to His creatures and wants us to live and receive from Him as God’s children. He has the answers for time and eternity and we were made for Him. We are His offspring. Jesus said ‘Whoever comes to me I will not cast out’ (John 6:37).
St Peters congregation that worships on campus at Eastside Lutheran exists primarily and foremostly to reflect the Gospel message of God’s grace and love shown most fully in Christ Jesus and seeks to be an authentic ‘hospital for the sick’. Come and join forgiven and recovering sinners every Sunday at 10.00am or speak to me. We are all fragile ‘works in progress’, depending on the grace, mercy and help of Jesus.
Why be ashamed? Jesus said “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” We don’t come because we have it together, but to receive Him who holds everything altogether!
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The aim of this Page is to be a safe place to explore the ultimate questions of meaning and purpose and to enquire about and discuss the Christian faith from a Lutheran perspective.
A Little About Me
I am Pastor Michael Steicke, often referred to as Pastor Mike. I have been a Lutheran Pastor for over 30 years, having served Parishes in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, before moving to Tasmania to be the Pastor of St Peters Lutheran Parish in Hobart at the beginning of 2016.