Jesus inaugurated His ministry quoting Isaiah 61;1-2. It begins with, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives . . . ”
Us humans don’t fare well when in captivity, whether it is of our bodies, minds or souls. Today in rural America, Satan is taking alarming numbers of people captive through meth addiction. According to a study by the US Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, meth use is twice as prevalent among 18-25 year olds as it is among their urban counter-parts. It is a scourge on our land and a ruthless taskmaster dragging our youth and young adults to destruction. But what an opportunity for the church to kick in the gates of hell where it would really hurt!
Coming up against this stronghold of the devil is no small matter. It will cost us. We will have to embrace the addict with an unconditional, and yet, firm love. It will take opening our hearts and arms, while not enabling continued abuse. It will force us to re-evaluate our priorities and convictions as Christians. It will require our time, our money, our comfort and especially, our hearts which we so carefully protect.
I recently sat in the living room of a dear friend and brother in Christ. Since I have known him he has taught me some deep lessons about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, especially as it relates to my own moral brokenness and undeniable need for His grace and power. This brother has been an addict for the majority of his life. In the latter part of his life he became a Christian. His transformation from addict to Christ-follower has been gradual, but powerful and inspiring. He has had stretches of great progress and periods of great struggle. I was in his living room this time because he had been struggling. Old demons had sung their haunting strains like sirens near the reefs, luring him towards disaster. When he found himself broken on the rocks they raised their ugly, guttural voices in self-condemnation and loathing that easily morphed into anger and judgment that he slung at those who truly love him. Until that day. And the days that have followed.
Since then he has opened his door and his heart to more of his brothers and sisters in Christ who remain in his life and invite him into theirs. They are loving him with heaven’s love, and there are few on this planet that can resist it if they are open to its influence; including him.
Meth has taken many captives, but Jesus will set them free. Church, bring the Kingdom of God to rural America. Set the captives free!