Castle X from the ocean-side...
If not for my addictive personality, how else can you explain that - at my age - I put the time and effort required into building a castle in Minecrack that is three stories tall, surrounded by water, has a rooftop made completely of glass, has a boat dock, and can be seen for miles because of the Netherrack burning eternally atop its battlements? Do you have any idea how long it took me to dig, mine and build that sucker? I won't even discuss the cavernous, multi-level, underground complex I'm currently building that will eventually be connected - over a significant distance - by powered rail to the catacombs of Castle X (see above). Like I said, an addictive personality.
This is an addiction of the head. I would opine that the head is where most addictions reside. The Bible has (roughly) 95 verses that speak of wine or alcohol in one way or another. Many Christian denominations teach that believers should abstain from alcohol completely, others do not. Clearly, overuse of wine or strong drink is discouraged in the Bible. My guiding principle in this regard comes from Romans 14:21 -
It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother [and by extension, sister] stumbles.
I've pretty much put aside the drinking thing. As I suspect most folks who have addictive personalities will tell you, if someone likes the taste of alcohol or the effect it brings or the impression of good times it engenders, look out.
I believe there is one overriding principle the Bible teaches that covers just about everything, whether it is mentioned specifically by name or not: If something takes your heart away from God - in effect replaces God with something of this Earth - then that, my friend, is bad.
With all your heart?
Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37, among other verses, tell us that we are to love God with all our hearts. Every time I read those verses I am convicted because I know there are compartments in my heart (and mind, and spirit...) that I have not let God into. I would hazard a guess that even the most devout believers might have a few sections in the picture above that are absent of God. But maybe not, maybe that's just me justifying my own weakness.
I know in my head that I need to allow God into every aspect of my life, but the mirror of my heart doesn't always reflect that. As Ferris Bueller said during his day off, "Life moves pretty fast..."
There are two parts to this heart discussion. There is part one: the belief part and part two: the life part. In order for us to love God with all of our hearts, we need first to believe in His redeeming plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. That is not a head decision but one of the heart. The Apostle Paul illustrates this perfectly in Romans 10:9. Based on the Bible a person cannot arbitrarily decide they are a Christian - a follower of Christ - they have to have a change of heart.
I'm not trying to back anyone into a doctrinal corner, far from it. I've read some Christian blogs recently that discuss the openness - or lack thereof - of today's churches. Our churches should be open and welcoming to all. A few verses on, in Romans 10:14, Paul hits on another truth, "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?"
If we expect our churches to be places where people can come and hear the truth of the Bible and places where, once having heard, can confess with their mouths and believe in their hearts, hadn't we better make sure that our church doors are wide open?
Not very welcoming...
If someone has decided in their head to give Christianity a try, they aren't Christians. Even if they are attending church regularly, serving the community, etc. there has not been a change of heart. I can make a head decision not to drink alcohol, but if I'm going to dedicate my life to Jesus and call myself a Christian, that has to come from my heart.
Once I've made that heart decision, I've got a whole bunch of other life decisions to make. And in my short time as a Christian, I've learned that it takes both the head and the heart to make those.
What do you think?