Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Twelve Steps and Christianity

Today is an anniversary, I've been clean and sober 20 months.  That's a wonderful gift from the Lord Jesus Christ.  I don't claim to be a member of any fellowship, but I will say that I love the twelve steps.  They are very powerful.  And they're very important to me.  The steps are an incredibly powerful process of transformation.

The steps originated in the Bible.  How do I know that?  The process originated with something called the Oxford Groups.  These were Christians trying to return to the roots of Christianity because they felt Christianity was getting off track.  Eventually a man named Bill Wilson, a hopeless alcoholic was attending these Oxford groups to try to stay sober, and from there Mr. Wilson wrote the 12 steps.  In the 1940s the steps were adapted for people with Gambling problems.  In the 1950s the steps were adapted for people with Narcotics problems, and then Over eaters, Cocaine, Nicotine, Meth, Depression, and Codependency.  

The steps are entirely founded in Biblical principles, providing a Christian with a great road map for the "how to" of living the daily Christian life.  Allow me to illustrate just briefly, and I'm just scratching the surface here.

The first step is really about surrender.  I admit I'm not God.  And without a higher power I can't seem to live a decent life.  I'm out of control, things are unmanageable and I can't get it right on my own.  Surrender ought to be a daily practice of the Christian.  How can I submit myself to God?  I know of myself I make bad decisions much of the time, admitting that is key.

The second step is about coming to believe that God exists and he can help.  That can take a moment or a century.  It's all up to me, and how much effort I want to place on the process of coming to believe.  There are a billion books, scientific evidence, history, audio books, Bibles on every corner, and YouTube for thousands of hours of lectures and talks by great minds.  Am I seeking honestly?  Am I looking for what I want to find?  The second part is.. assuming God exists, then I must also believe that he can indeed help me.  He has direct upon, he can fundamentally change me.

Step three, I turn my life over to God.  I try to do it God's way.  I ask for his guidance every morning and thank him for it at night.  I Give my life to Jesus Christ the savior.

Step four, I make an inventory of my decisions and actions.  I clear out the garbage within the soul.  

Step five means I tell the inventory to someone, I speak it out, and let it out, the full truth.  And by doing that, my soul is cleared of so much garbage and suddenly, I start to sense the presence of God.  It's not that he wasn't there, it's that I was so backed up I couldn't sense him.

Step six and seven means looking at the defects of character that showed up in step 4, and I face them.  I acknowledge them.  Then I ask God for the willingness to have them removed, one by one over time.

Step eight and nine is all about getting right with the people around me.  Have I hurt family or friends?  We all have.  We go to those people, apologize, and ask how we can make amends.  We get right with people.

Step ten, eleven, twelve are the progression of the journey.  Step 10 says I continue to work 4 through 9 on a daily basis.  I keep up with the process, I make it a lifestyle.  It becomes my design for living.  Step 11 means I seek after God.  I work on improving my contact with him.  I sense him more and more.  I pray to him, and I meditate on his word, which means just read the Bible, and think about what it says.  And of course step 12, is that I share the message, evangelism, I take the message to others about the good news of Jesus Christ!

Not so complicated is it? 

These are the steps as written, the 1st step and 12th step may change slightly depending on if a person is dealing with stress, drugs, sexual addiction, or spiritual emptiness.  But all in all it looks like this:
  1. We admitted we were powerless over our existence —that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  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.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

If you would like to try working through the steps read through this piece that goes through the process: Practical Process for Inner Transformation 

And I'd also strongly recommend purchasing a book on the topic of the twelve steps.  There are many, many books that apply the 12 steps to all manner of problems.  The 12 steps have really revolutionized treatment of so many problems by applying a simple spiritual solution.  Go on Amazon or something and just search for "the 12 steps" or something of that nature.  I don't know what your concern is, anything from drugs, alcohol, or depression to simply wanting to live a richer Christian life.  

Good luck on your quest ;)