This comes from the Sermon on the Mount. The Pharisees had the bad habit of trying to adhere to the letter of the law while missing the overall point of it. Straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel is how Jesus described it. It is not just the act of murder that is sin but how one gets there as well. No one wakes up one day and say "I'm going to go kill someone today." Even the most demonically oppressed, mentally ill people do not do this. There is a progression of some sorts. Just look at the fall of King David:
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, "Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, "I am pregnant." -- 2Samuel 11: 1-5 (ESV)
Watch the progression. First, David places himself where is not supposed to be. He was the king. He was supposed to be out in battle. Then he sees something he should not see. Then he covets. Then he lusts. God still gives him opportunities to stop the progression. He finds out she is married but his sin rolled on. He finds out she is married to one of his own fighting men but his sin rolled on. He then tries to cover it up and eventually his sin leads him to become a murderer. David did not wake up one day and decide to have Uriah killed. It was the end result of sin born long before that point.
Likewise, heroin addiction is another end result of a sinful society and the way that it mocks the notion of God and what He has commanded. Sometimes this end result is less obvious. Maybe it is the closet alcoholic wife, who only drinks wine of course. Maybe it is the middle class working man addicted to pain killers. Maybe it is the kid from the hood who has been taught to get rich or die trying. Sometimes the end result is even more obvious. Maybe it is the disaffected youth that takes a gun to an elementary school and murders 20 children. Maybe it is 74 overdose deaths in one small community in a span of a year. However it manifests itself, the end result of sin are people who need triage in this world to deal with the real life crises at hand but also a spiritual triage to deal with the root cause. Let the world treat the problems the world has caused.
Should the church help in these efforts? Absolutely. People should see us doing good works because of Christ. That is one way we are the light of Christ in this dark world. But while triage is in dire need it only deals with the surface problem. If the church is on the front line of helping the hurting but spends its Sundays without the Gospel she has lost her way. The heroin epidemic is real but so is the false gospel epidemic. One is a tragedy of human proportions that causes great temporal hurt but the other is a tragedy of biblical proportions that causes suffering for eternity. The church needs to get back to being the church and preaching the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then we will see less people feeling the need to turn to heroin for hope because instead they will have Jesus. He will turn their mourning into joy unspeakable and give them a crown for the ashes of this world. If we went to a doctor for a heroin addiction and he prescribed us an antibiotic and sent us on our way we would rightly scream malpractice! The unsaved people who walk in the doors of churches every day would be screaming spiritual malpractice if they only knew. Our role is not to make their marriages better. It is not to make them feel better about themselves. It is not to motivate them. It is not to entertain them or convince them to come back the following week. It is not to bestow upon them some grand sense of false purpose. I do not know how much plainer I can be. They are unsaved not unchurched. They are going to hell. There is only one thing that can possibly save them and that is the preached Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not our human wisdom. Not our theories of church growth or marketing schemes. Just the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Stop the spiritual malpractice. Stop treating the wound and get down to the root. Time is running out. Redeem it before it is too late.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- May 28, 2016