Oblivious Addictions

Alcohol and drug addiction are just the tip of the iceberg when you talk about being dependent on something.  Well, there are a whole bunch of other forms of addiction, and many we are oblivious to.

Some are body induced, like some of the heavy hitters like alcohol, drugs, and nicotine, and others a lot of people do not talk about much like caffeine, salt and sugar.  There are substances that can alter your mood, but there are a bunch of others that involve a process of some sort.  These would include a “preoccupation” with something like money, sex, relationships, religion, gambling, violence, television and ________ (you fill in the blank). 

In such cases, one becomes addicted to the “process”.  Let me try to clarify here.  Let’s pretend I am addicted to money.  It is not that I am addicted to actual money itself, but being concerned with having or not having money is the addiction.  Whether you have a “body induced” or “process type”, or both type addictions … all of these interfere with a person’s ability to be in touch with themselves, and their spirituality. 

Any addiction changes behavior, distorting reality and fostering self-centeredness. Any addiction can harm, and many do it more slowly than others.  We all have a shit-load of addictions, and as addicts we begin to recover from one of the key addictions we have, and start to get sober.  As soon as that happens other addictions emerge out of nowhere. 

The addictive process is like someone patching up a leaky basement.  The main leak may be heroin or some other drug, but when that hole is plugged (with someone finding recovery) the flow of water will apply pressure in many other places and will find a hole to continue the leak, and then it will find another and another. 

To recognize a “process” addiction is to acknowledge that society operates pretty much the same way… addictively.  Institutions perpetuate the addictive process.  Individual addicts are characterized by self-centeredness, dishonesty, preoccupation with control, abnormal thinking processes, confusion, denial, perfectionism, being judgmental, and ethical deterioration.  

Well, society as a whole exhibits these same traits.  Society does not merely encourage addictions, it regards them as normal.  By shutting off our awareness of ourselves and our spirituality, addictions make us as people easier to manipulate and control.  The person who is best adjusted to an addictive society is like a zombie, neither dead nor alive.

I was a zombie walking around within the walls of an institutional church building.

The church, as Western Christianity mostly defines it, a building where you go to a service, have a plethora of programs, tithe, sit passively, ect) can also take on the characteristics of an addict.  I can debate that the “institutional church” is functioning like an addictive organization.  I can see and have witnessed addictive leaders having the power to bring an organization to the verge of devastation.  The “church” is like the typical dysfunctional family or organization, which refuses to engage in self-evaluation and self-criticism. When I have had questions and differences among the “church” leaders, my differences are seen as an attack.  Therefore the “church” isolates itself and relates only to those who think as it does.  Just like a bunch of zombies all searching for the same thing, and instead of eating humans, they search for self-satisfaction.. they want to feel good.. much like being addicted.

Well, I was addicted to “church” in many ways.  And it took me a long while to figure it out.  I was oblivious to what I was addicted to.

So, what would happen to your spiritual life if “church”, as I have defined it above, just ceased to exist?  

I know that will not happen, but let’s say it does for kicks and giggles.  Let’s say all “church” buildings are locked and banned from use, and then all “Christian” conferences, concerts, and seminars were no longer permitted, and all children’s youth groups are shut down, and all men and women ministries disbanded.

Also, all presentations, Easter pageants, Christmas plays become illegal, along with organized Christian counseling, food pantries, church-based homeless shelters, crisis hotlines, and church-run childcare & preschools.  Then finally, every ordained minister’s credentials are revoked under threat of imprisonment, and the vocation of a pastor providing formal paid instruction to other believers is no longer allowed.

So, would your “walk” with Jesus be serious disrupted if you did not have a “church” to attend this Sunday or ever?

Is your “Christian” life wrapped up in a building, programs, ministries, and meetings?

Mine was, and I got the heck out of that “organized religion”.  And you know who I finally found just sitting in the street, or laying in the gutter… Christ.

18 thoughts on “Oblivious Addictions

  1. Great post.

    I was just talking to my wife last night about this (with some of what you have written elsewhere in mind). In my job, I sometimes feel like a pusher of Bible knowledge and church programs. We spent some time brainstorming on how I can help addicts wean themselves off of such things.

    1. Jeremy, great thinking. I do not want to get rid of everything, just need to focus a tad differently when engaging in certain activities.

  2. As I read your post, I saw what you described as what happened to many generations of good people behind the iron curtain. People lost hope…and faith as they no longer had a community of like believers (building or not…mostly not) to encourage each other and keep the hope of God’s love and redemption alive. No, it is not the buildings…but there is certainly something to be said for the support of fellow Christians to keep the knowledge of and belief in what Jesus did for us alive and to support each other in times of pain and hardship…to be the face and hands and voice of Jesus here on earth. That is why the buildings, house church groups, Bible, religious teachings and even open faith conversations were forbidden….they were contrary to the masses succumbing (like zombies) to the communistic state (an another man made institution). We must take care not to shoot down the message because we do not trust the flawed messengers (all us humans). Kind of like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. God works through flawed humans….it makes Him less than God to think He can’t and doesn’t.


    1. Pat – There is a book coming out in November call Finding Church and the part that I wrote will help explain what I mean by this post. Stay tuned.

  3. The reason, as you correctly deducted, for the addictive nature of church, is it’s origins. Church was never God’s idea, it did not originate with Him. What once was the true revelation of Jesus the Anointed One and the reality of the working of the Holy Spirit has been subverted. Paul said, “After my departure ravenous wolves will come in and not spare the flock.” I propose these wolves are demonic spiritual forces. By the time Constantine controlled the public practice of faith in Christ, the true revelation was no longer visible. What we have now, is a religion. Christian religion has no more relationship to Christ than Hinduism, or Islam. These false representations, can not deliver life….but they can deliver and addictive substitute that fallen humanity will and has readily swallowed, one Sunday at a time. The enemy of all souls does not have to get you addicted to crack, church will do. The object is to waste your life away until your life is over.

  4. Don’t forsake the gathering together of yourselves as is the custom of some. Paul and Jesus preached to large crowds and in the synogogues. Large gatherings are necessary as seen in Nehemiah and Joshua. You can accomplish much with a large group of people, but not if they are spiritual orphans, or not serious disciples. Sharing the Good News, and spreading the kingdom is the responsibility of everyone. Total immersion into Christ, His Word, His Kingdom, is the only way this can be accomplished. Examining one’s self daily, to see if we truly are repentant, and following Christ, as revealed by the scriptures, all of them, give us an idea where we are in the sanctification process. Worshiping 24/7 by being intentional in all that we do and say, is our only indicator, that we even begin to understand obedience and the Kingdom of Heaven.

    1. Kirk – Welcome! Thanks for commenting. I definitely do not want to stop gathering together. It is what we say and do and how we live in community once we are together that matters. I do not want to see a bunch of individuals learning knowledge in a huge crowd and being alone the entire time.

    2. Kirk, not only is abandoning institutionalism not “forsaking” the gathering but in fact is just the opposite. Simply showing up to sing a couple of songs and listening to a prepared sermon is about the furthest thing from a Biblical assembly one can get.

      1. That’s why we’re supposed to NOT “just show up”; you are actually expected to interact with other members of the congregation, and to do what Christ would want of you to spread the Gospel. I. E., love the other people there, and help where you can.

        IMO, it’s a lot easier to sit back and judge when we ourselves aren’t trying, than it is to actually get engaged with folks like He wants us to.

  5. I have two responses to this.

    1.) I’d start working on a way to get the church together in “underground” ways, much like the body of Christ has to do in places like China. I’d seriously hate having to go back to that lifestyle, though, because it’s crazy-stressful. x_x;;; Then I’d start wondering what had happened to dramatically change the American government so much as to make any kind of organized religion illegal.

    2.) Alternatively, I’d probably migrate to a more Christ-friendly place like Mexico or Singapore or whatever, and just keep doing my best to be the person that Christ wants me to be. 🙂

    BTW, I see you rant a lot about institiutional churches, and while I do see your point, I’m also forced to acknowledge that gathering with other Christians to learn about and worship Christ while encouraging each other’s faith was the entire point of forming the Church in the first place. Alternatively, of course, if you see the church you’re attending doing very unbiblical things, then it’s DEFINITELY time to either move and (a) find a more God-centered congregation or (b) starting one yourself.

    Whether that congregation meets in an official church building or in someone’s house doesn’t matter. 🙂

    But yeah. Just because folks are barred from actual church buildings doesn’t mean they’ll stop actually meeting together and worshiping Christ. The first-century church went through that in the worst way, but it was the best thing for the Word of God; it spread like wildfire thanks to that persecution! 😀

    Still, an interesting question to consider.

    1. Liz – Your comments are always great. We just see things a tad differently, which is cool.

      I just do not see church as a set of programs and sermons, that to me is unbiblical. I cannot go start a church myself or it would be called the First Church of Swanny.. it would be made with my rules, just like all the other man made denominations.

      To me God already created church and his name is Christ (and we make up His Body)

      1. If programs and sermons are the only things you don’t like, then why not try an emergent church or a house church?

        God wants us to gather with other Christians to worship. You’re right that specific programs and sermons may not matter, but getting together to encourage each other’s faith and worship and pray together (at least in SOME form) is ESSENTIAL to Christian faith.

        If we stop trying to care, love, and forgive each other, we become bitter and jaded, and that’s just no good for anyone. Not saying it’s easy….but it is essential to our faith in Christ that we at least keep *trying* in Him. (Asking Him for help in these things is essential too. 🙂 )

        Anyways, I hope you see what I’m saying; I had to write it several times before it came out right. lol (It’s getting late, and I tend to lose focus and get easily irritated when it’s late. 😛 )

  6. Liz – I absolutely agree we are to all gather together as His Body… just not in an institutional form (run like a corporation)

    I am just writing this post to have people be aware of the addictive “system” the runs the “church”.

    I am not saying we stop caring for people despite the way they gather. If people find Christ and community in different settings, great! That is awesome!…

    but if they go through all the motions and never really get beyond the surface and never realize the hearts and all the deep down hurts of the people they sit next to when listening passively to a feel good sermon.. it can be hard to get out of that type of environment. I think a lot of people struggle like I have in finding that community God wanted us to have in Him.

    I think a lot of people think they have that community, but it is a false sense of one. If certain people try to dig deeper, a lot of them will be surprised by the results.

    I do not need to “try” any emergent or house church.. I just need to love others in community with Him. Gathering to break bread (have a meal) and live life together no matter when and where you are and no matter what comes up in life (mentally, physically, spiritually).

    But if an emergent church or house church environment works for you and you find that deep committed community, that is awesome.. praise God.

  7. We’re all addicted to feeling better, and we’ll do whatever it takes to feel….better. Feeling Better is an insidious idol. We have millions of ways to justify its worship. If we’re not careful, it can even cause us to leave institutions. 🙂

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