by ProfDave, ©2020

(Nov. 22, 2020) — “Speak softly and carry a red pen,” the English teacher used to say.  “Judge not that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) is the favorite verse of those who do not read their Bible.  I used to resent that, but I have learned what Jesus meant under the influence of Celebrate Recovery®.  And I’m in recovery from carrying a red pen in my pocket.  Of course, it does not mean that we do not make moral judgments, warn others of dangerous courses of action and protect ourselves from things that trigger us.  But as broken people, we have no right to condemn other broken people.

We call it “fixing” in Celebrate Recovery, and it is verboten.  “We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable” (Step 1 – see Romans 7:18).  That’s the beam in our eye and it hurts like crazy.  If you are whole, it is a gift of God, not of your own doing.  But maybe you are in denial.  When you are in denial, it seems a lot easier to fix someone else than to fix yourself.  Neither really works.  Most, if not all of us have wounds only God can heal.  We who “hunger and thirst after righteousness” stretch our broken selves on the operating table and let the Great Surgeon, Dr. Jesus, do the fixing.  When He is through, He’ll take us home.

“Fixing” makes a recovery room unsafe.  It drives us deeper into denial and further from God’s healing grace.  Wounded people are wounded again.  Accusations do not heal.  That is what the devil does for a living.  Why help him?  We already know we are messed up.  We already know what we should have done.  “Just cut it out” cuts like a knife.  We’ve quit a hundred times.  Easy answers and Bible verses are very little help.  We have already tried everything in sight. 

The memory of failure adds shame and discouragement.  What we need is hope and support.  “Pray for one another that you may be healed” (James 5:16).  Will you commit yourself to listen respectfully?  To love us and pray for us?  To encourage us to be open to God by being open yourself so that we may come “to believe that a power greater than ourselves [can] restore us to sanity?” (Step II, see Philippians 2:13).

David W. Heughins (“ProfDave”) is Adjunct Professor of History at Nazarene Bible College.  He holds a BA from Eastern Nazarene College and a PhD in history from the University of Minnesota.  He is the author of Holiness in 12 Steps (2020).  He is a Vietnam veteran and is retired, living with his daughter and three grandchildren in Connecticut.

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