|'M SURE YOU'VE seen the headlines and the mug shot of Mel Gibson being booked for DUI. It is one of those human-interest stories that generate an enormous amount of media attention and website traffic, not so much because it involves alcohol abuse but because it involves a celebrity. When you add to that the fact that the celebrity in question is a staunch conservative and a Catholic with a well known history of deeply held religious beliefs and good works, the most famous of which is a highly acclaimed motion picture called, The Passion of the Christ, you not only have the makings of a real water cooler controversy but the enormous potential for spiritual confusion and secular exploitation.|
Mel's real problem is not alcohol; nor is it anti-Semitism, verbal abuse, drunk driving, speeding, running stop signs, a foul mouth, a cocky attitude, suicidal tendencies or any of the other "unforgivable" sins the media is currently seething over in its unrighteous indignation. Mel's problem is a life not surrendered to Jesus Christ.
Salvation is not found in wafers and wine; nor is it obtained by building chapels, receiving mass in Latin, donating money to good causes, being conservative, patriotic, faithful to your wife, a good father or making religious movies that gross millions of dollars. Redemption is found ONLY through genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The fruit of a life surrendered to Christ is found in humble obedience to God's Word, not in a comprehensive list of accumulated good works and a reputation for charitable endeavors, regardless of how religious they may appear to be to family, friends, fans and clergy.
"Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." - Matthew 3:2
Even repentance is a gift from God and not the work of men. If repentance was something anyone could perform, then the power of the flesh could itself redeem us through charity and good works, rendering Jesus Christ's sacrificial death on the cross, unnecessary. No, it is the power of God that convicts a pride-filled, self-centered, sin-ridden heart of its terminal condition and transforms lost souls from the inside out, turning us toward Jesus Christ and the Cross where He alone bore the penalty for our sins. The religious power of man can only cover sin cosmetically from the outside in. And though cosmetics can for a time, create the illusion of health, beauty and perfection, it is only skin deep; and even the very best makeup fades over time revealing the embarrassing scars and imperfections of the flesh beneath.
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." - Acts 2:38
Mel's failure, is the same failure of many so-called Christians today - they've made Jesus Christ a part of their lives rather than yielding their entire lives to Him so that HE can supernaturally make THEM a part of HIS Life eternal. It's a control issue that many who profess Christ simply have backwards. God is not a genie in a bottle to be uncorked in times of trouble. If Mel just asks the Lord to help him quit drinking or cure his alcoholism, he will not only have missed the point; he will have missed a marvelous opportunity to surrender his life, with all of its strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures to the only One who can miraculously deliver him from destruction.
Recognizing our own inability and powerlessness against the sin in our lives is what ought to compel each of us to cry out to God for deliverance, not therapy. Merely asking God for assistance with a particular sin or "disease" that has most recently troubled or embarrassed us publicly while holding on to the rest of our life, as if we had that part of it under control, is an insult to the Almighty and shrewdly sidesteps the larger spiritual issue of ownership and our desperate need of redemption. I sincerely hope this is not what results from Mr. Gibson's arrest.
We should all be on our knees begging for Divine deliverance daily from a deceitful heart and sinful desires within us that war with God and try to separate us from His Will. Until this happens and the Lord answers our earnest prayer and confession with His life-changing power, any struggle we have, be it with alcohol or anything else, will continue unabated and not without great cost.
"Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." - 1st Corinthians 6:10
Petitioning some unnamed "higher power" in a 12-step program might temporarily aid one in some psychological and superficial sense with a life-long struggle against alcohol; but only Jesus Christ's one-step program of repentance can effectively deliver us from the self-destructive appetites and desires of the flesh; and our souls from the fires of Hell. Alcoholism is curable, but not with a willful and disobedient heart that refuses to repent. It's not about getting new habits - it's about getting a new life.
Based on reports of what Gibson said when he was arrested, even in his drunken state, he seemed to realize that his life was in shambles. Using unrepeatable profanities, he essentially said as much; but then so is any life without Christ. What makes this terrible tragedy such a marvelous opportunity for him; is now that he can see a little more clearly what his life REALLY IS, in spite of his wealth, fame, success and religious reputation, with God's gift of repentance, he might well, for the first time in his life, obtain a cure, instead of just help in managing the symptoms.
Although it's much too early to know what will become of Mel and his DUI; I find it both encouraging and ironic that, at least for a brief moment, in the vulgarity of his anguish and despair, he accurately assessed the condition of his life. That's a pretty good start, considering that many today, both inside and outside the church and its Purpose Driven pulpits, can't even do that sober.
"...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." - Luke 13:3,5
Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective.
As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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