I am sitting here this morning working on a project to develop a discipleship ministry for people involved in life dominating sins. Were I not trying to be theologically accurate, I would say that I am developing a recovery program for addicts.
But the truth is that addicts are slaves to life-dominating sins because of choices they make. Their previous choices make have made those choices harder (since they have now created a physical dependency), but they are still choices. No one forces an alcoholic to raise that glass to his lips. No one forces a drug addict to sniff that powder. It is a choice, regardless of the physiological dependencies that may have been created.
I also don't believe in "recovery." I believe in transformation through discipleship. What an addict needs is not a way to stay away from alcohol, or stay off drugs, or stay away from sex. What he or she needs is someone to follow who offers them a new way of life, both in this world and the next. They need to be "transformed by the renewing of their mind."
"Recovery"is, in my opinion, at least a nod of the head toward the sickness model of addiction. We recover from sickness. We find freedom by being transformed by the glorious power of the gospel.
So while I may, for the sake of convention, talking about addiction and recovery, and I am actually talking about life-dominating sins and discipleship.
So what does this have to with the diner? A man (John) who visited the church before stopped by my table to ask what I was doing. I have shared the gospel with this man before. When I explained to him what I was doing, he said "We need that around here."
It wasn't but a couple of sentences until he volunteered that he had been church-hopping. I told him one of the biggest reasons to attend our church faithfully is because the teaching is systematic. It is connected from week to week. We do not jump around the text looking for the flavor of the week. We preach what comes next in the Bible (Romans 13:1-7 this week). Besides, when you are at the same church every week, you can actually get to know people.
John is a pretty quiet person, but still in need of prayer that he might find the hope that is in Jesus alone.