Most of us would think of addiction to cigarettes, or to alcohol and other drugs, as dangerous. Maybe you know someone hooked on these and wish you could see that person break free. Or maybe you're struggling with some compulsive habit yourself.
There is a way out of harmful addictions. It involves getting a handle on God's love - learning that it exists, feeling that it's real, getting into the swing of expressing it. These actions lead us away from self-destructive habits. You could say it's a case of replacing bad habits with the good habit of God-guided thinking and living. However, truly knowing and obeying God is never routine. The love of God is always fresh and responsive to individual needs, including immediate needs. Its attraction is all-powerful. It can break the grip of anything that exerts a negative pull on our thoughts - and lives.
Understanding God's love has healed me of smoking and gambling. But it took me a while to learn something more surprising. I found that even activities that are generally good and constructive can become addictions, if devotion to them undermines our commitment to doing good in the world - to letting God guide our thoughts and actions. The founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote some time ago, "Enjoying good things is not evil, but becoming slaves to pleasure is" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," Pg. 197). That's something worth considering.
I realized I had become a "slave" to the pleasure of music. Can we really love music too much? Or movies? Or art? Or nature? Or sports? Or being with friends? Is it possible that we can really be overdoing such activities?
We need a variety of constructive activities in our lives. Clearly, there's nothing bad about enjoying or performing good music. But my problem was that I started judging others by their knowledge of and opinions on music. And I became very self-righteous. In that sense, it is possible to overdo things.
I began to explore Christian Science, reading the Bible and "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures," by Mrs. Eddy. And from these books I learned of a higher love, spiritual love, which is unconditional. The unconditional love showed by Jesus Christ, I saw, enabled him to help and heal people. To change their views of themselves and improve their lives. If I felt that one person was less worthy than another because of his or her taste in music, my love was conditional. If I felt superior to others because of my views on music, my love was not reflecting God, divine Love, who loves all.
Recognizing this woke me up. I knew it had been a much more aggressive version of self-righteousness that led religious leaders of Jesus' day to crucify him. By echoing that awful attitude - no matter how much less severely - I was leaning away from love. I realized I was losing sight of God and of how He loves us all equally.
Through prayer, which has helped me be more loving and humble toward everyone, I have been moving beyond making a "false god" of music. I still listen to music and love it. In fact, I love it more than I previously did! I've even come to love a whole category of music I used to dismiss as inferior. I see it was only my self-righteousness that had been robbing me of good - hiding from me the awareness of something I now really enjoy. And I find that as I am less judgmental toward others, I am happier.
According to the Bible, "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:27). We are each that spiritual, truly wonderful reflection of God. I now see that music, like anything else, becomes a false god to the degree we look to it instead of to God to provide our self-worth, joy, happiness, freedom, peace.
We each reflect God individually, whatever our tastes and preferences. He supplies each of us with good unconditionally. To know this is true for everyone is to worship God and acknowledge the universal perfection of His creation. This worship can be uppermost in our lives without depriving us of any good thing.