“If possible, so far as it depends on you,
live peaceably with all.”
Nobody said this recovery business is easy. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Here’s something I don’t know if I have ever heard in church-as-usual. We talk all the time of unconditional forgiveness – from Jesus – but we never address the harm we have caused. I don’t remember ever hearing a pastor hammer away on us making right our wrongs. If it was mentioned, it had to have been in passing because it certainly didn’t register with me. I went through this step in AA before I started going to church, so I was keenly aware of making amends.
I know full well why we don’t – because it’s really, really hard. Keep in mind that this step requires us to fess up to OUR own wrongs, not the other person’s. We don’t balance out the back-and-forth wrongs with a person before deciding. No, if I had cross words, I need to apologize. It doesn’t matter if that other person was the town jerk. If I was out of line, I was out of line. That required I do something about it. It also doesn’t mean I expect an apology in return. Nope, I’m not doing this for HIS recovery. I’m doing it for mine. It’s called, “Sweeping my side of the street.”
The only “out” is if my apology might cause great harm to innocent people. A common scenario is if someone had an affair with a married person. Making amends may expose it on the OTHER side, potentially tearing apart a family. In that case, it is better to leave it alone.
The whole purpose is to deal with guilt and shame. I can assure you that it will do that. In fact, it will be probably the greatest relief you will have ever experienced. I have not heard anyone who was genuine in their efforts say otherwise.
Now, sometimes you don’t remember all these things at once. Maybe they will come to you as life goes on. Deal with them as they arise. God has a way of doing that. For me, it happened as I drove past a house in my childhood hometown. I had gotten into a fight in 7th grade with a kid that I shouldn’t have fought. As I drove by, I felt conviction. So, I turned in. His wife and kids were playing outside. I apologized to him right then and there. Not because it was enjoyable. I did it because it was the right thing to do. He and I are now friends today.
Step 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Step 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
This is a lifestyle, folks. A worthy lifestyle. I do have a beef with Step 11 in this “as we understood him” business. I also don’t agree with the last part. Now, this is like this with the intention to keep us from being self-serving in our prayer. I get that. However, it is also God’s will that we pray for many, many things. One can say that this step covers that, but that’s not how it plays out in AA meetings. So, yes, learn God’s will for yourself, and pray freely. He takes pleasure in us bearing fruit through our prayer.
Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
That’s the Great Commission, folks. Is it any wonder hardly anybody in church-as-usual shares the gospel? It is rare, rare that someone goes through a discipleship program like this, that’s why. And when one does, the joy of the Lord will simply gush out. It cannot be contained. It’s certainly not that we HAVE to share the gospel; it’s that we WANT to share it – not only because others need it but because we so enjoy hearing it ourselves!
Folks, do you see what I’m talking about? The church desperately needs this. We are instructed to examine ourselves to make sure we are in the faith.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
2 Peter 1:10a Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election,
Do you desire such a rigorous discipleship? It’s hard, but the benefits are rich beyond description. Do you desire that? What about your pastor? Is he willing to lead you through such a difficult journey? If not, why not? All this is scriptural. Listen, folks, verses like this should frighten us all:
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Honestly, this is a huge problem for almost all churches. Yes, there are a few who passionately pursue this type of discipleship, but these are rare. Why is that?
Take the weekend to think about that. Ask anyone in AA if these Steps have changed their lives. Or, do we presume that just because we are born-again we don’t need something like this? Or, maybe we’re not even born again, but we still don’t need it? What about you, pastor? Are you willing to do this yourself and open up your life, warts and all, so that you may lead by example? What about you, audience? Are you willing to demand this type of leadership from your pastor?
Father, shake things up! Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers