When you hear that word, what comes to mind? Drugs. Alcohol. Pornography. Maybe even food. Problem is, we tend to think of those things as the penultimate object of addiction. That they in and of themselves are only what we can have a craving for. That's not the case though. Sinful, fallen men can be addicted to anything and everything, and usually are. So, to tip my hand, I will say it is not those things we are truly addicted to.
What are we addicted to then, and why?
If we pause to think for moment, we might be able to categorise our addictive actions as feeble attempts on our part to try and become like God. Does that sound crazy? The idea makes even more sense if we consider it in light of the fact that God was perfectly complete and content before He made even the first Planck of time. Now that's not saying He isn't now, but God always has been and will be self-sustaining, in as far as mere human terms can describe His perfect condition. Man, though, always needs an "external force" to hold us up. Our addictions are our way of trying to be independent, to support ourselves, to satiate the thirst for more.
C.S. Lewis used the German word Sehnsucht to summarise this concept of yearning for that which is greater. The fact of the matter is that our very nature is inclined to be a part of something more, in ultimate terms, to worship. Laugh. It may sound clichéd, but it does not make it any less true. We must start with this understanding if we are to get anyplace in the fight against addiction.
The grand catch is that we don’t try to find fulfilment in or even worship the things that we’re addicted to. No. The things we’re addicted to are simply a means to an end. That end is us trying to worship ourselves. We're basically addicted to ourselves. Hell bent on pleasing, satisfying, engaging, and consuming. It started in the Garden with Adam and Eve. For example, did they worship the fruit? No, they used it as a tool to worship themselves, trying to become like God.
In his book, Awe, Paul David writes in regards to addiction and longing: "This awe capacity was meant to drive us to God in wonder and worship, but since sin separates us from Him, our capacity for awe gets kidnapped by things other than God."At first glance we might believe the answer to conquering addiction is found in abstention. In some cases, yes, abstention is an altogether good thing to do, but it cannot be the end goal. Let's go back to our need to have more for a second. Looking at this from a biblical perspective, it's clear that we were made to Glorify God. Wouldn't the opposite of our own self-destructive addiction and worship then be countered and even overpowered by being consumed with the Glory of God?
Don't be fooled, this isn't a battle won overnight. However, identifying areas of weakness is key to success. We need to persevere, to be more enamoured with the eternal God then our mortal flesh.