Addicted to Righteousness
An old Reformer once said, of the Christian’s life, that “unless we are addicted to righteousness”, "we will faithlessly abandon our Creator". That phrase - “addicted to righteousness” - is striking. Certainly the language of addiction applies to our present day, even in our entertainment practices - we don’t just “watch TV”; we “binge watch” shows. And there is the myriad other addictions that multiply in our age: shows, screens, food, alcohol, pornography, shopping, social media likes . . . addiction is everywhere.
But it has always been with us - thus a Reformer from the 1500’s can speak so prominently about addiction. Addiction speaks to us, because it is the perversion of a very good thing. The addiction cycle:
- tastes of something
- finds it pleasurable
- tastes again
- finds that the pleasure multiplies
- experiences a feeling of transcendence
- the pleasure becomes a refuge from life’s troubles
- finds there are consequences to enjoying this pleasure
- normalizes: we become used to the current level of pleasure
- wants more of it
- needs more of it, as refuge from both life and the consequences
- so we taste again
And the cycle continues.
We see this cycle so much, with all its ugliness and wreckage, that we cannot conceive of it having positive connotations or outcomes. And yet the old Reformer is right: this cyle has a beauty, and positive connotations, and blessed outcomes, if the addiction is for righteousness, and therefore for God.
Psalm 34:8 exclaims, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” Good - righteous, excellent, pure, delightful. We taste of Him, and find that every other pleasure points to His goodness. The Spirit multiplies that experience within us and magnifies it: begin to sense the transcendent nature of His goodness.
Then comes some kind of trouble in life. Here is where real change happens: we take refuge in God, the way any good “addict” takes refuge in their chosen “Helper”. The Psalmist continues: “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” We hide in our Refuge like any addict, with one exception: there are good consequences - the Spirit’s fruit grows, in the trouble. Relationships are built up, not torn down. Our minds and bodies are refreshed, not exhausted.
We begin to see the goodness of the Lord multiply before our very eyes - and we want more of it. We “normalize” - we get used to the goodness that we know and see, and so we pursue Him, wanting to see even more of Him, more closely, more intimately . . . and the “addictive” cycle continues.