Several years ago, This American Life Podcast had an episode titled “Know When to Fold ‘em’.” It included a story about the St. Anthony Residence in Minnesota. According to their website, “St. Anthony Residence provides permanent housing for late-stage chronic alcoholic men in Ramsey County with repeated admissions to detoxification centers and a history of failure in traditional chemical dependency treatment programs.” Most people call this type of residence a “wet house.” Though there is a rare instance of an occupant joining a detox program, the residents of St. Anthony are more likely to die in the home than get help.
This segment of the program broke my heart. It is quite clear that these men had given up hope. The individuals interviewed were neither self-righteous nor smug. They weren’t happy with their state, but they had come to a point where they accepted the fact that there was nothing they were capable of doing about it. Though opportunities for hope and healing were readily available, the mission of St. Anthony was simply to reduce harm – to both the residents and others.
I sometimes think Christians like to view themselves as “spiritual addicts” in a successful “sin detox” program. The fact is, if we view ourselves as people who are actively working on our recovery, then even if we slip a little bit here or there, we believe we’re still so much better off than those other sinners “out there.” Let’s face it, I’ve admitted my sin, and admitting the problem is the first step in getting better, right? And that gives me the right to point out someone else’s sin. Isn’t that “calling sin by its right name?” Isn’t that what Christians are supposed to do?
Personally, I think we’re ALL in the sinner’s wet house. We have a history of failure. There is absolutely nothing that will enable us to completely stop sinning, and we will all die in our sinful state. Pretty depressing, right?
Except . . .
there is something that makes all the difference . . . something that gives us hope. A Savior. Though, in our human state, we will all die in the sinner’s wet house, the resurrection of Jesus promises there is a place prepared for us—a place of health, healing, and loving community without the addiction to sin. Our mission is to live in such a way that our fellow residents see a clear picture of a loving, gracious, and saving God so He will become their hope as well.