Pastor Harry Colegrove teaches a series call 12 Step Faith using the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as a blueprint for discipleship. In this message he is looking at how AA is similar to what the Church is called to be.
12 Step Faith - Step 7
We are in the seventh installment of a series called 12 Step Faith
In this series we are using the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as a blueprint for discipleship
I love AA, and as I was studying the 12 steps I noticed how incredibly similar they are to some basic Christian principles
The 12 steps of AA work wonderfully for all who follow them, and they have helped millions of people achieve sobriety
I am convinced that if you follow the 12 steps outlined in this sermon series you will be well on your way to becoming the disciple of Jesus that you are meant to be
So far we’ve looked at steps 1 - 4
Step 1 says this
Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over sin – that our lives had become unmanageable.
The first step in any recovery program is admitting that you have a problem
If I cannot, or will not, admit that I have a problem - whatever that problem may be - then I cannot change
2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results
If I want a different life, I have to do different things!
Step 1 tells me I am powerless over sin
Step 2 tells me that there is a power greater than me that can restore me to sanity
In other words, there is a power that is greater than me that will help me do different things to get a different and better life!
That greater power, of course, is God
Step 3 says
Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him
I can recognize that I have a problem
I can also know that only God can help me get rid of that problem
But it takes more than simply admitting and recognizing - I need to do something about it if I want to change
I have to make a decision - I have to decide to do something
What am I going to do?
Turn my will and my life over to God
I need to realize that my best efforts got me into the mess that I am in
I need to realize that I can no longer follow my own will
I need to follow God’s will for me
God is way smarter than I am!
God only wants what’s best for me - why would I not want to turn my will and life over to Him?
Step 4 says:
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
At its heart, a moral inventory is identifying our weaknesses and failures
None of us like to admit that we have faults & weaknesses, yet if we were to be totally honest we know they are there
I must know where I am if I ever hope to get where I want to be
I must do this moral inventory to know where I am
The other thing of note is this - we are terrible at doing a moral inventory of ourselves by ourselves
Why? Because I judge myself on my intentions and I judge others on their actions
If I do something wrong, but my intention was good, it’s easy to overlook it
We have to get other people involved if we want this to be an accurate moral inventory
Step 5 says this:
Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
This is a very brutal, but very necessary step
In this step we confess everything we have ever done wrong - we must get very specific
We confess this to ourselves, to God, and to another person
Many times confessing removes, or greatly weakens, the power of temptation
It also provides us with some accountability
Today we are going to be looking at step 6
Step 6 says this -
Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
It’s one thing to know that we have character defects, but it’s something entirely different to want to change them
As strange as it may seem to some, there are people that will not, or feel that they cannot, remove these character defects
Infact, last wee we discussed 3 reasons why they may feel this way
This brings us today to step 7 -
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
As we said last week everyone has character defects
One of the things we also need to realize is that we are not strong enough to eliminate these defects on our own, we need to ask God to help us
In step 7 there are two key words we need to look at
The first key word is humbly
We cannot overcome our character flaws without humility.
Too often, we are victims of pride and selfishness.
I’ve noticed this attitude quite a bit in our region
I’ve never lived anywhere else but this county, so I am not sure how it is in other areas of the country
But I know that here, most people are very self reliant
We don’t want help from anyone - we can do it ourselves!
We are the first ones to step up and help a family member, a family, or sometimes even a total stranger
But we don’t want anyone to help us
If we ever hope to overcome our character defects - our sin - we need to get rid of our pride
Think about it - your best efforts got you into the hole you are in, why do you think you can get yourself out?
“We can never engineer or guide our own transformation or conversion. If we try, it will be a self-centered and well controlled version of conversion, with most of my preferences and addictions still fully in place but now well disguised. Any attempts at self-conversion would be like an active alcoholic trying to determine his own rules for sobriety. God has to radically change the central reference point of our lives. We do not even know where to look for another reference point because up to now it has all been about me! Too much “me” can never find “you” - or anything beyond itself.” - Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater, pg 63
What Are Some Tips for Completing This Step?
Be willing to suffer and feel pain. It’s important to feel the pain that you masked with alcohol. It is a necessary step toward recovery and spiritual well-being.
Be patient. You can’t change your life overnight.
The first was humbly the second is asked
This begs the question - Why do we have to ask?
Doesn’t God already know what we need?
Matthew 6:7-8 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
God does know what we need, but we are also told to ask
Matthew 7:7-8 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Why do we need to ask?
The reason we need to ask is to build our relationship with God
Richard Rohr said -
“We ask not to change God but to change ourselves. We pray to form a living relationship, not to get things done. Prayer is a symbiotic relationship with life and with God, a synergy which creates a result larger than the exchange itself.” - Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater, pg 60-61
I love this!
We ask, not to change God but to change us!
We pray to build a relationship - which is the foundation for everything in our faith
I’ve preached this before, but I think it is something that we need to hear often
Our Christian walk is not based on following a list of rules and regulations
It’s not about what we do so much as it is about building a great relationship with God
God calls us to be holy, just like God is holy
Jesus lived a holy life, and we are called to emulate Jesus
But again, holiness is not so much about what we do and don’t do, but about the relationship we have with God
Let me explain
Every relationship has rules
Some are spoken, some are unspoken, but there are rules there
I can follow all the rules, but still have a lousy relationship
However, if I focus on building a great relationship, the rules will take care of themselves
I will follow the rules not because I have to, but because they are the natural outflowing of a great relationship
Again, Richard Rohr had something profound to say about this
‘“How you do life is your real and final truth, not what ideas you believe.” Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater, pg 63
My theology - my beliefs - can be perfect. But if I am a jerk I am not being holy
Let me explain a little further just to make sure no one misunderstands what I am saying
I’m not saying that our beliefs and our behaviors are unimportant - far from it!
We need to have the right beliefs and the right behaviors
But, more importantly, we need to have the right relationship with God
This only comes through prayer
Through recognizing what we need, and asking God to provide it
We need to humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings
One final Richard Rohr quote for the day (can you tell that I like Richard Rohr’s book?)
God’s totally positive and lasting way of removing our shortcomings is to fill up the hole with something much better, more luminous, and more satisfying. Then your old shortcomings are not driven away, or pushed underground, as much as they are exposed and starved for the false program for happiness that they are.” - Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater, pg 64
God wants to remove our character defects, our sins, and replace them with something so much better!
We just need to humble ourselves and ask