I'm not going to go through all the reasons that have led our particular band of Jesus students to look at the steps as a means of getting ourselves on the Way, but let me throw out a few summary reasons why I personally respect the steps as a fully viable way for a group of disciples to guide and examine their supposed discipleship to Jesus:
- Helping people to enter the reign of God, which is here and now and will last forever, seems to be the thrust of Jesus' ministry and purpose for us.
- "Entering a reign" of any kind involves the submission of our will and our lives to the sovereign, and thereby trusting the sovereign a fairly great deal for wisdom, protection, etc. The overlap between the will of God and "the reign of God" is substantial, to say the least. (See the Lord's prayer) Therefore, entering the kingdom can often be accurately discussed as a matter of entering the will, or activity of God. As Jesus said, "Calling me 'lord' isn't the issue; the issue is doing the will of my Father." This is, in reality, more of a moment to moment issue, than a once-and-for-all event; more about discipleship than what we've tended to call 'conversion.'
- The twelve steps of AA deal with alcoholism indirectly, as a symptom of a larger disease.
- The larger disease is a life that is lived for self, and by self. It is a life unwilling to submit to the reign/will of God out of distrust, fear &/or pride.
- Hence, the steps focus primarily on getting a person to stop doing life their own way, and give their life, one day at a time, to God to run instead--to surrender their little kingdom, with its little rescources and knowledge, to God's kingdom.
- AA embraces the reality that what will be needed to stop the particular 'sin' of drinking, is a total overhaul/transformation of the person. Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good, is the way Jesus put it.
- If the one who sins is a slave to sin, it makes sense that getting (and keeping) a new master is part of the solution. In this vein, talking about our addictions rather than just our sins seems to be a more helpful and honest way to talk about ourselves.
- I've met few people who were more humble, honest and truly transparent than those who were working some version of the steps.
There are more reasons I dig the steps, and I'm open to talking about them or the ones above. The guts of it has been my understanding of the kingdom of God, discipleship, and what God has always been inviting us into through Jesus. I think the steps have a better handle on God's offer and what becoming a disciple means than most churches.
For a couple of weeks, everyone in our group has had an opportunity to look at the steps, and think about what our primary purpose is, as little Christs in the making, according to God. Everyone was encouraged to make any changes to the steps that they felt would be necessary or helpful in light of that primary purpose. We will likely share everyone's thoughts this weekend, and I look forward to some good insights. I plan on making my version of the primary purpose and the steps the subject of my next post.
+++Thank you, God, for leading me again to a place where I can be honest, unashamed, and hopeful--all at the same time. Your love, your leadership, is amazing. Thank you. +++