Lessons for the Church from ‘Recovery Boys’

The Gospel Coalition | 7/20/2018 | Staff
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A new Netflix documentary, Recovery Boys, looks at the harrowing realities of opioid addiction by following four young men on their rehabilitation journeys. Jeff, Rush, Ryan, and Adam are addicts who enter rehab at a place called Jacob’s Ladder, a farm-based program in rural West Virginia. Directed by West Virginia native Elaine McMillion Sheldon, the film shows the distinct struggles, temptations, and recovery paths of these four men, putting a human face on America’s opioid crisis.

The film is beautifully made: moving without being manipulative, informative without being didactic, subtly observational in the manner of great documentary filmmaking. It’s a helpful film for anyone who battles addiction or knows an addict. It’s also one every pastor, parent, and youth leader should see. Though not a “Christian” film (and despite its name, Jacob’s Ladder is not an explicitly Christian rehab program), Recovery Boys vividly portrays sin’s corrosive grip on God’s image-bearers—and the rocky but beautiful process of receiving grace and growing toward holiness.

Recovery - Boys - Church - Pastor-elder - Challenges—and

Recovery Boys caused me to reflect on my own calling as a local church pastor-elder, inspiring me anew to take up the challenges—and joyfully persist amid the frustrations—of discipleship and local church ministry.

Early in Recovery Boys, Jacob’s Ladder founder Kevin Blankenship describes the significance of the farm work central to the program at Jacob’s Ladder. “Farming life is a series of advances and a couple of setbacks,” he says. It’s work that is ever ongoing.

Metaphor - Life - Sanctification - Seasons - Fruitfulness

The agricultural metaphor is apt for the life of sanctification. Seasons of fruitfulness are often followed by droughts, and a healthy farm takes years of careful work to cultivate. There’s a reason Jesus talked about kingdom life using imagery of seeds and vines and farmers. Growth is a process, a long-obedience endeavor requiring patience and endurance and humility and grit.

Growth is a process, a long-obedience endeavor...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Gospel Coalition
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