Have you ever considered the idea of church being like a recovery program? For every believer, sin is our daily addiction. When we come together in worship, it is a time of encouraging each other in sobriety from our sins, just like in Alcoholics Anonymous. Even more importantly, in worship we together recognize that our only rescuer from that sin addiction is God.
I hope this isn’t a surprising statement. After all, the 12-step program is based on the gospel. Each Sunday morning, then, is like walking into an AA meeting and saying, “Hi, I’m Rob, and I’m a sinner saved by grace.”
When people decide to go through a recovery program, it’s usually because they have come to the end of themselves. They realize they have no other place to turn but to God. As believers, we need to feel the same way. We need to come to a place where we can say, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).
A great example of this is found in Luke 7:36-50. Jesus was invited to an important religious leader’s house. Soon after he arrived, a woman of ill repute crashed the party, making a scene of weeping and crying while washing his feet with her tears and hair. The religious leaders there were outraged that Jesus would allow this woman to do such things, yet Jesus was unaffected by their criticism. Instead he told a parable. When people recognize the true weight of their sin and yet experience forgiveness, he says, it will be overwhelming: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47).
As with this woman’s tearful expression of thankfulness, recognizing the true depth of the forgiveness of our sins should always open us to sympathy for the struggles of others. And if there’s ever a place where people who struggle in this life should be able to find understanding, it should be the church.
The church should be our place of spiritual recovery. When it comes to our addiction to sin, none of us has anything to be proud of. We’re all sinners saved by grace.
With this recovery perspective in mind, the church should be a place of comfort for those who wrestle with sin, a place where we can bow our heads at Jesus’ feet and be embarrassingly grateful for the love he has given us. According to Jesus, an expression of gratefulness like the one shown by the woman weeping at his feet is a true sign of genuine faith.
How great is our gratitude compared to this woman?