Luke 5:30-32 – But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (NIV)
About a year ago, a friend of mine asked me to come to the addictions treatment centre where he worked, to meet a client, who was looking for a spiritual advisor. Knowing that I was a minister, my friend thought that I would be the perfect choice.
When I got there, I found a young man in tears, beside himself with his problems. He was almost through the withdrawal symptoms of his drug of choice, but not quite. He was shaking, and, within minutes of our starting to talk, he was extremely tearful. He told me some of the things he was going through at the time and asked me to pray for him. I did this, and then he didn't seem to want to talk, so I left after a few minutes.
A day or so later, I got another call from the client himself, asking to talk. This started the beginnings of my volunteering at the treatment centre. In the spiritual advisor role, there is a lot of room for movement and growth.
You may not be aware of the steps in a "12 Step Program", but a number of them deal with God. Step 12 says, "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics (addicts), and to practice these principles in all our affairs."
I have had the satisfaction of working with a number of clients whose "Higher Power", when I first saw them, was a coffee cup that kept their hands warm. Later they began to see that a "Higher Power" was a loving and caring God to whom they could reach out and ask, not only for forgiveness, but also for compassion and grace.
A number of them have, later on in the process, asked me for Bibles. The local Gideons group has been very helpful in providing these Bibles. As I have come to know them, I have found that these people can be, and often are, the most honest and caring people. Jesus showed me, through my new friends, a new ministry to become involved in, as a volunteer in His name. These were the men and women who Jesus went out into the streets and by-ways to rescue. Can we do any less? Can we refuse to see their faces, get to know them, and hear their pain?
Prayer: God grant me the ability to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.