I have a small group I am teaching, actually three of my best friends, one a Catholic, one a Lutheran, and one an alcoholic. They really need the Lord; however, the alcoholic says she doesn’t believe in God, what do I say? She drinks even at our study and I am torn about how to proceed or if I should.
Dear Name Withheld,
I am sorry about your friend; alcoholism usually ends in tragedy not only for the alcoholic but for everyone around them. The devastation spreads like the ripples of a stone tossed into a pond. I understand both your pain and your concern for her wellbeing. You would do most anything to help her get help, wouldn’t you? Of course you would.
The obvious answer is Christ is greater than any addiction. Your friend’s salvation is the key to deliverance. But few find victory instantaneously.
What can you do—really? The person has to be ready.
The denial mechanism is so strong that most alcoholics have considerable difficulty both seeing the oncoming destruction and doing anything to avert the tragedy. But, the situation is not hopeless.
Consider talking to her family and close friends about arranging an “intervention” for her. An intervention occurs when family and close friends all get together for a surprise confrontation with their alcoholic friend. Sometimes the shock of experiencing so many close friends and family sharing their concern for her will cause the alcoholic to surrender to treatment. Unfortunately, this process is usually not successful; however, fortunately, sometimes, it does work. It is important to have planned in advance which treatment center he/she will go to that very night. The move to treatment must occur immediately following the intervention, otherwise he/she will soon change their minds and the intervention will be for naught.
It is wise for you to work out with the family and other friends a treatment plan for when the alcoholic finally reaches “bottom” and is so broken that they will surrender for help.
Regarding the non belief and/or need for the Lord among your friends, my suggestion is to continue focusing on your daily walk with Christ. Nothing pushy, just authentic. No rational arguments, just the indwelling life of Christ that you enjoy. The picture of Christ is beautiful to behold and desirably attractive for people whose lives are a mess.
I believe that the advice Peter gave to wives about winning their non-Christian husbands is applicable in every situation where we are longing to lead a friend or loved one to Christ:
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight (1 Peter 3:1-5).
Of course, prayer can change things. So we add a dose of prayer to our endeavors. While your friend has free will to make any choice she wants, you may pray for Jesus to place her in circumstances which might pave the way for her surrender to the Person and Lordship of Christ.
By the way, remember that coming to Christ always involves a spiritual battle. Pray against the spiritual blindness Satan imparts to souls in hindering their coming to Christ. Paul gave us insight into this behind-the-scenes battle over the souls of men and women:
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6).
I hope that my answer helps to give some positive direction for a difficult situation.