‘Hi John!’

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

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This is a difficult step but there are a number of things that will make it a lot easier. One of those I want to talk about today is one of those things that makes the AA environment for change more suitable than your typical church environment. In AA, this kind of moral assessment is going on all the time. You’re not the odd man out when you come up with damaging realities on your moral inventory list. No one’s going to go, “You did what? Well at least I haven’t dropped that far!” No, it’s quite the opposite. More like, “That’s nothing. Wait until you hear what I did.” It’s an exercise in “one-downmanship” instead of one-upmanship.

There is a bottom line in AA: everyone is an alcoholic. You are an alcoholic among alcoholics. And that’s comforting. Everyone’s going through the same thing you’re going through. That’s precisely what’s behind the simple greeting of, “Hi, my name is John, and I’m an alcoholic,” and everyone bellows, “Hi John!” It’s that response that is so important. It’s enthusiastic. It’s boisterous. It’s welcoming. It says, “Hi John. We know. You’re among friends. It’s safe here. We’re not afraid of that label; in fact, that’s what got us in the door. Not that we’re proud of what we’ve done, but we’re glad for the association — the common line. We all start at the bottom here; and we don’t have anything to prove.”

Phew! How does that make you feel? Welcome. That’s why here at the Catch, we call it the Gospel of Welcome. Everyone’s welcome. Sinners are welcome.

I want you to read that last paragraph substituting “sinner” for “alcoholic,” and see what happens. In fact, I’ll do it for you. Here it is:

There is a bottom line in church: everyone is a sinner. You are a sinner among sinners. And that’s comforting. Everyone’s going through the same thing you’re going through. That’s precisely what’s behind the simple greeting of, “Hi, my name is John, and I’m an sinner,” and everyone bellows, “Hi John!” It’s that response that is so important. It’s enthusiastic. It’s boisterous. It’s welcoming. It says, “Hi John. We know. You’re among friends. It’s safe here. We’re not afraid of that label; in fact, that’s what got us in the door. Not that we’re proud of what we’ve done, but we’re glad for the association — the common line. We all start at the bottom here; and we don’t have anything to prove.”

How does that make you feel? No more judgment. No measuring of righteousness. No spiritual competition. Don’t you want to go to this church? Isn’t this the type of environment that makes a moral inventory much easier? To the extent that we can live like this is the extent to which we are walking in the light.

“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:8,9)

Way before we are saints, we are sinners saved by grace.

“Hi, my name is John, and I’m a sinner.” What’s your response going to be?

 

Questions:

What response do you think you might get in most churches if you started out like this?

Why is church so different?

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9 Responses to ‘Hi John!’

  1. Sandie says:

    Unfortunately, if you got any response in the least positive, it would be tentative at best…like you were a leper and you could spread your disease. You know, the disease of honesty.
    How did church come to be this way? The same way the Pharisees evolved into the religious sham they were when Jesus came to town. Little by little, we forget where we came from and refuse to remind ourselves that in many ways…we are still where we came from….a sinner needing the grace of God.

  2. Mark D Seguin says:

    My response to u is Hi John I am one too & welcome to the family…

    To reply to the other question: that seems to have different answers for everyone. Mine is (a Mark’s paraphrase) might be because the preaching from the pulpit too often can be about how much better we are as Church people and don’t we feel a bit sad for the others that don’t know what we know…

  3. Jesus Aguilar says:

    If you come to a meeting of alcoholics anonymous and you say: My name is John and I am a sinner – most likely the response would be something like this: Hi John welcome but you are in the wrong place and a loud laugh from everyone in the room. In response to your second question: Church is so different because people attending church, do not care for the person alongside, on front or behind. People come in their ca-cum inside a bubble, do not talk to me or just leave me alone I am here to worship and sing and get away from the outside world, the one I cannot wait till this is over so I can go back again. I attended church for over 40 years never found what I found from my first day in AA. But if it is good for you, please keep going and if an AA comes in and after a while like me is looking forward to go back, please do it. We an AA find a home, where everyone is a broken human being, we are all saints and yes we are all broken and from our brokenness we come to God for forgiveness and guidance to become better members of society, by being respectful, helpful, and of service wherever we go. Starting at home, on the job, on the road, we find out that we are one with God, and we are here to let others know that is possible to surrender the false persona and become the beautiful child of God that was created out of Love.

    • Mark D Seguin says:

      Excuse me Jesus Aguilar I could be wrong, have been before and sure I’ll be again in the future, yet trying to put all the millions upon millions of people that go to Church around the World has you stating they, “… do not care for the person alongside, on front or behind. People come in their ca-cum inside a bubble, ”

      That’s simply is not true. Some do care about their follow man and to state other wise, I think our Lord & Savoir Jesus would or may say take that plank out of your own eye, before you take speak out of your brother’s…

      I’m sorry 4 the Church u attended for over 40 years was like that – But not all of them are…

      • Jesus Aguilar says:

        I stand correct, absolutely should not generalize and for the all the brothers and sisters that enjoy going to service or mass, please accept my apology and keep on growing in service to our Lord and Savior. Most humble accept my apologies, but I have no filters only share my own experience

  4. jwfisch says:

    Good going you guys. You worked it out.

  5. Jesus Aguilar says:

    This is what we do as AAs and as Christian brothers.
    We stop fighting anything and everything
    Nothing ever gets resolve by fighting
    Love and tolerance is our code for living

  6. Timothy J logan says:

    Good message let us never forget we have all sinned when we start to think of ourselves as better than others we are losing sight of the gospel and what paul said in Romans All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, When we forget that we become like the pharisee’s and believe that we are above others and that our sins are not as bad as others. God looks at all sin the same He does not Grade sins as 1 is worse than others We do. Lord forgive us when we act this way and help us to remember that all sin is offensive to you.

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