One of my friends who is quite open with me about his journey out of addiction and into recovery told me of a phrase the recovery community uses:
The Spiritual By-Pass
What is that?
It’s the desire on the part of many addicts to receive ONE prayer, ONE pill, or ONE deliverance and voila! … addiction healed without the painful work of recovery.
As some of you know all too well, it doesn’t work like that.
Recovery from addiction of all kinds involves a look back at family dynamics, a look in at personal motivations, a look around at fellow pilgrims who help you enter and then sustain sobriety, and a look up at God who grants freedom.
None of those elements come in isolation, even the part about prayer.
But here’s what is interesting to me: many Christians, whether struggling with addiction or not, want a similar spiritual by-pass in their lives.
One prayer, one decision, one moment at the altar . . . and that’s it for their Christian faith.
Now: I am all for those decisive moments of conversion. I went through it myself and invite people to it with some frequency.
However, in our eagerness for the power-of-the-moment, we can’t forget the words of I Corinthians 1:18:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
It’s that short phrase “being saved” that is the key. Salvation is not something that happened only in the past, at the campfire, church altar, or bedside.
Salvation is happening now. We are being saved not only from the penalty of sin after we die but from the power of sin in the here and now.
Spiritual by-pass? A pipe dream.
Spiritual progress? The way life with Jesus really happens. One day at a time.