14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,[c] 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21
This morning I awakened to the controversy brewing over legalizing marijuana to help get the city of Los Angeles out of its financial crisis as reported on the Today Show. It was suggested that this legalization would also help other cities across the nation receive revenue from the taxation of legalizing marijuana, which would certainly ease some of the financial woes many cities are now facing. I’m sure this debate will continue for an indefinite period in the future as it is certainly not the first time it has been raised. However, my message is not about the legalization or non-legalization of marijuana. The controversy moved my thoughts to another arena. I began to think about the many vices we, both Christian and non-Christian, gravitate toward in our lives, mostly to escape some reality, better deal with reality, or to confirm a reality.
There are times in all of our lives when we would just rather escape the realities that exist for us. Some of us are experiencing serious financial problems, have rocky relationships with spouses, children, friends, etc. We all would like to just “get away.” We’d love to sit in a hot tub on a secluded, exotic island and escape from it all! The Calgon commercial of long ago just won’t do! Calgon can’t help us, bubble baths won’t suffice, the soft music and candles just aren’t doing the job! Then there are those of us who’d just like to be able to better deal with reality. “If I could just have this or that, I could cope.” We want something else to numb the agonizing sensation we feel as a result of our situation. The problems or the issues won’t seem to go away so we want something to dull or lull our senses into compliance.
There are also times when we feel devoid of confidence, of reassurance, and we give in to our reality. We feel hopeless and apathy sets into our spirit – we just need something to hold on to as we sink into the pit of despondence. I can’t speak for you, but there are certainly times in my life when escaping sounds like a perfect solution! There was a time when I thought that a perfectly rolled joint was going to help me to get away from it all, only to realize that after the high the problems were still there and all I gained from the experience was an insatiable need to eat an! Before you get too high and mighty about that admission, many of you might not have reached for a joint, but maybe your vice was alcohol or some other substance and your escape kicked you back to reality with a hangover or a habit! Still not on your street yet? Maybe your vice was shopping and it knocked you back into lucidness with a debt you STILL can’t pay!
Regardless of your method, all of us at one point or another have resorted to vices to help us make it through some tough circumstances! It’s been over 25 years since I’ve even seen a joint, but have I picked up other vices as a child of God? Now that some of us have moved past the big 3 – drugs, sex and alcohol, do we still look to vices in our times of trial instead of to the victory we have in Jesus Christ?
I love the entire book of Ephesians. Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus to encourage the Gentile believers in their faith. It was important for him to let them know that they were no longer enemies with God, that they were a part of his family now that they had put their trust in him. He prayed for their strength, for their increase of love and faith! There would be times in their lives when they might be tempted to go back to their old habits, their old ways, but he reminded them that there was a power (dunamis) already in them as believers! We have to remember that that power is already in us – working within us! We all struggle, we all deal with what seems like insurmountable issues at times, but the only vice that is worth gravitating toward is the Holy Vice – God’s Breath – His Word! Drugs won’t help us, alcohol won’t soothe us, sex won’t liberate us, shopping won’t satiate us – only God’s Word will truly satisfy. I pray for you as you deal with whatever you are going through – but as Paul states it is also my wish that you are strengthened through the Spirit in your inner man, that you would know Christ’s love that surpasses all of your issues, that you are filled with the very fullness of God and that God is glorified through the power that is already working within you.
c/2009 Candie A. Price