This Concerns Us Too

By: Rev. Mark Sundberg, Lutheran Pastor

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There is a tendency for us in the affluent northwest Chicago suburbs to shun those whom we consider weak or compulsive. We have gotten here, after all, by hard work and consistent and faithful living. “Why can’t everyone be like us?” we might think. So, for those among us who struggle with addictions, those that fall into the wrong crowd, the underage youth who drink or get into drugs, there is likelihood that the rest of us might sit in judgment and condemnation.

Our spiritual traditions, however, almost always portray a vision of wholeness for everyone. The dream of so many religions is for health and well-being for the whole world. My own Christian tradition certainly calls for wholeness and salvation for all people. In the Christian scriptures, especially the Gospels about Jesus Christ, Jesus consistently heals those who are the outcast, the sick, the condemned, the marginalized – and calls his followers to serve him by serving the neighbor, whoever that would be.

In Matthew chapter 25 Jesus speaks of the final judgment for all the nations: those will be judged righteous who have cared for the hungry and thirsty, the stranger, the sick, the naked, and the prisoner – “the least of these.” We can certainly extend Jesus’ intentions to those who succumb to drugs and those who fall into other addictions. Jesus’ ministry was almost always to the outcast.

If we consider ourselves a Christian nation and culture (a majority in this country do), we certainly need to be concerned with those who have fallen by the wayside, those who need wholeness and liberation from substances and systems that keep them in bondage. We as a well-endowed nation need to dedicate our resources to helping those who face addictions to be freed to live a productive life.