image by Logan Fisher from Unsplash
I was halfway typing this post only to realize the red squiggly lines were trying to tell me I had consistently typed "drunkardness" instead of "drunkenness."
Ephesians 5:1-21 is a long passage which gives many weighty guidelines for us as Christians on what our new life should be like, and drunkenness is only one thing mentioned briefly towards the end. We tend to not talk much about this term, at least in my experience, perhaps because we limit our understanding of drunkenness to its literal definition; alcohol.
But drunkenness can be more broadly understood as a state of addiction. And in our time, addictions have only morphed into more and more mutations; it's never been more relatable.
How do we recognize an addiction? It reduces your life to two categories--when you're feeding the addiction, and when you're anticipating/waiting to feed it. That itchy, restless feeling that we've all experienced before.
Being hooked on a drama series, for example. You go to work daydreaming about it and wishing you could just stay home and binge watch the rest of the episodes, pick up where you ended last night. Wishing you could just do that all day.Waiting impatiently to get back to it, getting annoyed when anything gets in the way or delays your gratification.
Addictions could be anything ranging from the obvious ones like drugs and porn, to the where-do-we-draw-the-line ones like social media, handphone or video gaming, entertainment, movies, sports, shopping, etc.
Like an alcoholic, whose life is wholly measured in relation to his/her addiction (when they're sober or drunk,) addictions make us see our every day in light of whether we're doing It, or waiting to do It; living in anticipation of the gratification it gives us. "Drunkenness is the product of repeated involvement."
We may realize our problem, or we may not. In either case, lack of self-control keeps us trapped in it; lack of the motivation, desire, and willpower to break free of the cycle we're living in. It saps our energy, prevents us from using our abilities and resources, from taking an interest in other things, in people.
And it gets harder and harder to envision and experience joy and intimacy with God, when our experience of pleasure and satisfaction is increasingly defined by what our addiction gives us. As C.S. Lewis said, "...We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud-pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." (The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses)
And it is this joy--joy which the Spirit gives, joy in God--which is our weapon against drunkenness. This joy needs to be cultivated, to be actively nurtured and exercised by repeated involvement in the means of grace as our God-appointed means of accessing it.
Having said that, joy is so much more than simply mindlessly, if dutifully, going about spiritual disciplines.
Joy can be cultivated in our conscious mindset of thankfulness.
Joy can be cultivated in meditating on God's attributes.
Joy can be cultivated in learning to lay our hearts before God when we pray. Our sins. Our fears. Our desires. Our longings. Even our flawed, often insufficient trust.
Joy can be cultivated in the fellowship of His people, where we strive to model Christ's love.
As a Christian: what comes to your mind when you think of joy? How distant and unrelatable does the concept of joy in God seem to you?
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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