Headline: Real People
“Overdose epidemic.” “Opioid Crisis.” “Rising Homelessness.”
These are all headlines that repeatedly hit our news feeds. Are they true? Sure. Do they tell the whole story? Not at all.
Addiction recovery is messy and complicated. When a complex issue is generalized, it can create stereotypes that are simply untrue. These misconceptions become weapons against real people.
One participant was neglected and given drugs as a preteen. Did they deserve their fate? A car accident left a mother with a debilitating addiction to opioids. Doesn’t she deserve a helping hand?
These chemical dependencies are a disease. It’s a sickness that destroys every facet of your life. Individuals are not immune from criticism of their choices. But, my God is a God of mercy, grace, second chances, and healing. We must serve members of our community struggling with this illness. Consider what Jesus says in Matthew 25:31-36.
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I have interviewed many participants in our programs. A new perspective takes hold when you hear their stories and see their faces. These are children of God who deserve happiness, wholeness, hope, futures, love . . . a relationship with Jesus.
Let’s not boil people down to headlines or statistics. I want to “do for one the least of these,” as Jesus instructs. These issues continue to grow, and so our calling from God grows. Don’t waste this chance to live out God’s purpose for your life.