I often have opportunities to share my hope of salvation in Christ with new people. There are several resources that I have found very useful for giving to people that I have met and talked with along the road of life. One is John R. Stott’s excellent book, Why I Am a Christian (InterVarsity Press, 2003). Stott, who admits that he took this title from Bertrand Russell’s famous book, Why I Am Not a Christian, shows in a clear and readable style why he has found faith in Christ both compelling and persuasive.
Today I am sending another copy of Stott’s excellent book to a man that I met last Saturday on my flight from Philadelphia to Chicago. This man has been successful in admitting his addiction to alcohol and drugs, and then breaking that addiction, for well over thirteen years. He openly admitted his need to better know “his higher power.” My words were carefully chosen in order to say to him, “The higher power that I have found to have the real answers, joined with the gracious saving power to help me live a truly faithful life, is Jesus Christ.” My new friend admitted that he was put off by the church but not by Jesus. My hope and prayer is that John Stott’s fine book will be an instrument to bring him to the knowledge of Jesus, the one that God the Father sent to be the Lord of heaven and earth.
I choose not to attack the concept of a “higher power” when I meet people helped by AA. First, it serves no good purpose. Second, everyone I meet who acknowledges their need for such a higher power knows that Jesus has something directly to do with God’s revelation of power. My goal is to show them, by the Holy Spirit, how Jesus alone fulfills their need to personally come to know this higher power. And third, every AA member that I have ever met has already admitted their powerlessness and weakness. My task is to speak into this humble admission and then point them to the One who can forgive their sins and make them completely new.
Honestly, what is gained by trying to show the errors of AA to a devoted member of this recovery movement? I once took this approach and it always ended in an argument that closed the door for faithful witness to the power of Christ. The simple fact is that AA’s approach to dealing with addiction is profoundly rooted in historic Christian thinking. Further, it is possible for the faithful Christian to show how and why this is true and then proceed to share the gospel more effectively with those who have been profoundly helped through AA. Come to think of it the church could stand to adopt this theme of “powerlessness and weakness” too.