ALL of us have read about the challenges of battling drug addiction. And we need to use every opportunity to break the cycle of despair that so often accompanies addiction. Yet even our most worthy efforts are limited in their effectiveness if they address only the outward symptoms. We must dig deeper to find answers to the temptations that lead people into a life of addiction, to find answers that give them a sense of worth and purpose. And the first step in doing this is for us to gain a more profound perception of our own value in the sight of God.
At first this might seem strange. After all, the problem is with the other people--the addicts, the pushers, the runners, and so forth, isn't it? If these people lived in total isolation from society, that might be true. But each of us contributes to the makeup of society, its values, its goals, and its satisfactions. To break the cycle of despair, then, requires us to begin by changing our own thought of ourselves and others to the spiritual basis that Christ Jesus taught.
Once when Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, he answered that it is to love God totally. But Matthew's Gospel tells us that he didn't stop there. He said, "And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. It follows that as we begin to understand our own true worth as God's loved--and wholly spiritual-- creation, we will find positive and practical ways to love others.
Of course, we may feel that we are unlovable, even if we aren't engaged in illegal activities. At times like this, it is useful to think deeply about the true nature of man. Are we really hopeless beings who just scrape out a few years of lukewarm happiness and then deteriorate until we perish? Is that all we can expect? If such a sad picture were true, one could easily understand resorting to anything that would alleviate the anguish of such a life.
But it is not true. And Christ Jesus came to teach us our true identity as the sons and daughters of God. The basis for his ministry and for his healing work is that man is in fact completely spiritual. And because man's Father--our Father--is divine, his prospects and his heritage are unlimited. Man is created to express good, to be pure, to love and to be loved. Since he is inseparable from God, who is his divine source, he is never isolated, never cut off from divine Love.
Wonderful as it sounds, this unlimited prospect is not "too good to be true. It is actually your true heritage and mine. And it belongs to each of our neighbors. But to see its influence in our lives, we need to accept what it implies--to live in accord with God's law of good, for instance. This means that we can't indulge hatred or contempt. We can't be dishonest. Instead we pray to live as Jesus did--controlled only by God and motivated solely by love for our fellow humans.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, speaks of the importance of overcoming whatever would make us feel that we are not God's man. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she writes: "Man's enslavement to the most relentless masters--passion, selfishness, envy, hatred, and revenge--is conquered only by a mighty struggle. A bit later, she speaks about having the right kind of models as we grow spiritually. She says, "Let the perfect model be present in your thoughts instead of its demoralized opposite.
None of us need to be victims of addiction. As we pray to overcome the matter-based models that are the root of addiction and strive to live out the purity and goodness of God's man, we will begin to break free of addiction's environment. It is fundamentally a spiritual--and a mighty--struggle, but with God's help we will win.