I have never really been “apprenticed”, at least not like I have imagined it would happen…

The closest thing I can think of was when I worked for a professional law firm for four years while I was in school, and a couple of the partners were at different points taking me “under their wing” by giving me projects. But I have always pictured apprenticeship as shadowing someone day by day while they go through each step of their work. You wouldn’t just learn the job, you’d learn the person’s “ways”: how they talk, walk, eat, relate to others – you are shaped by their life.

When Jesus told His disciples “Follow Me”, I understand this was an invitation into apprenticeship. After all was said and done, and Jesus was raised up to His position with the Father, others seemed to be able to tell by observation that the disciples had “been with Jesus”, (Acts 4:13) and I thnk that people should be able to see the mark of Jesus on our lives today if we are being apprenticed by Him now; Why doesn’t this happen? I see maybe the biggest threat to being really apprenticed by Jesus is the addicitive culture we live in.

Addictive behavior can be understood as something or someone who has ultimate deciding power in our lives…whether we are acknowledging it or not. So what is addiction if it is not having something in the “God space” of our lives, controling our ultimate priorities from behind the curtain that covers our “heart” – what is our true “treasure” of life. Jesus showed His zeal for the temple of God during His whole life as we know it:

  • First words spoken about being in the temple;
  • Did much teaching in and around the temple courts;
  • Anger only shown when temple was being violated;
  • Referred to His body as a temple;
  • When all was finished He ripped the temple curtain in two.

So if we see addiction as something being in the ‘Holy of Holies” that is not God, it is certain to stand in the way of following Jesus. Here are five points to check to see if there are ongoing addictions or attachments in your life:

Uncovering the true nature of “idolatry”-
(Adapted from Addiction & Grace” by Dr. Gerald May)

1. Tolerance: Needing More. Tolerance happens when the body and mind adjust chemically and psychologically to a new “normal”. The chemical impact of the behavior which gave the “high”, or sense of satisfaction, triggers a reaction in our body to compensate for the change. The compensation levels out the chemical “imbalance” caused by the behavior, requiring more of the chemical change produced by the behavior to achieve the same effect next time. More drinks, more hits, more sex, more shopping, more hunger pangs, more cutting.
Question: Do you find yourself needing to do it more (the addictive behavior) in order to feel “O.K.”?

2. Withdrawal: Stress and Backlash. The first reaction when failing to engage in the addictive behavior at the “using point” in the cycle, and its requirement for “more”, is stress. The body responds as though something is “wrong” – irritability, change in sleep patterns, a lack of a sense of well-being. In chemical use addictions, one can even experience convulsions and black outs. Backlash is when one begins to experience affect that are opposite to those brought on by the behavior, resulting from the now “unbalanced” presence of the body’s compensating for the chemical affects of the addictive behavior.
Question: Do you experience irritability or stress if you don’t engage in the behavior with a certain frequency (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.)?

3. Self Deception: “Stinkin’ thinkin’”. The thoughts generated in the unconscious mind to perpetuate addictive behavior are unpredictable and powerful, but not always expressed to others. Some of these thoughts are so obviously pretentious that to say them out loud would unravel their ability to influence behavior all together. This is one of the keys to helping one another in addiction recovery – to practice the regular sharing of our thoughts around our behavior and choices; “walking in the light”1John1:6-8.
Question: Have you had contradictory or confusing thoughts around the topic of the behavior, or doubts that seem to question the obvious?

4. Dividing of the Will: Competing Agendas in the Heart. This is one of the pervasive traits, not only of an addict, but of an addictive society – The inability to decide to live differently, and succeed at it. We are battling with a divided, crippled will: As Paul confesses in Romans 7:14-25, this is a common struggle. In true addiction, the ongoing war in the soul is most apparent, as the body’s demand to restore the “normal” created by the addiction battles the mind’s conviction that freedom from the addiction would be better. It’s the “two wolves fighting inside”, and the one we feed will prevail.
Question: Have you been unable to keep commitments you have made to quit or change the behavior?

5. Distortion of Attention: Unconscious Denial. This is the sometimes amazing ability to ignore or block out the addictive behavior and its consequences all together. It is this phenomenon that is confronted in an “intervention”, where several trusted people in the addict’s life tell him or her what they are seeing – not to make them care or feel more convicted, but to “turn the light on”: because they really weren’t seeing the behavior or its consequences – at all.
Question: Have you minimized comments or concerns that others have brought up about the behavior?

If you answer “yes” to these questions in relationship to a behavior, you are likely “attached” to it in a way that allows it to control your life. At the point you really want to be free, you will need to seek help.

Note: There may also be (and often is) a spiritual dynamic involved in attachment that will need to be addressed as “spiritual warfare” – the above only addresses the physical and psychological processes of the “soul” (mind, will & emotions).

One of the best tools I have found to help understand the apprenticing of Jesus is the PCI, or “personal craziness index”. I looks like this:

You just consider ten things you understand the Lord wants you to do every day, and then track them. I believe we have all been “convicted” of things God is prompting us to do, but we quickly forget and go back our usual patterns that take us away from God. This is a discipling accountability tools to be shared between disciples. When it comes to addictions and attachments, simplifong life becomes a critical factor.

May the Lord give you victory as you follow the Savior!