Summary: Many of us are given to obsessive behavior. Healing comes when we name it for what it is and accept a healthy substitute. A relationship with Christ will erase destructive obsessive behavior.
Success in life is about one-half drive and one-half perspective. To get anywhere, to accomplish anything, you have to mix both drive and perspective. You have to blend both drive and push, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the ability to back off and look at your drivenness.
Most of the people I know who have really accomplished anything ... professionally or in their families or in their personal lives ... most of the really successful people I know have that driven quality about them. They are dependable. They stay by the stuff. They don’t let go. They just keep on doing what they do, and they work at it, long and hard. They don’t lose interest easily, they don’t lose sight of their goals. They stay with the program. Successful people have a clear and profound commitment to whatever it is they do.
But they also have the ability to back off and look at themselves. They have the ability to stand aside from their drivenness and analyze it. Successful people take what they are doing seriously, but they do not take themselves too seriously. Do you get that distinction? Successful people take what they do seriously, but they do not take themselves too seriously. They can laugh at themselves, they can see themselves as others see them, they can back off from their pursuits and re-evaluate themselves.
Coach Gibbs, for example, appears to have decided that his real success will lie not only in winning football games, but also in winning the confidence of his sons. And so he is backing off to gain perspective. That’s success.
Success is one part drive and one part perspective. When you lose perspective and can do nothing more than do what you do, then you have crossed the line into obsession. When you get out of balance and lose the capacity to put your life into context and see it as it really is, at that point you’ve become obsessed. You have crossed the line into obsessive behavior.
Obsession, you see, is behavior that takes you over. Obsession is something you have to do and you cannot really remember why. Obsessive behavior is something that defines your life, something that seems to give you structure. Without this something you can’t function. You are in chaos.
Obsession is behavior that you don’t control; it controls you. And it can be very destructive. It may be something very innocent, like the need to follow a set housework routine; or it may be something very intense, like alcohol use. But if your behavior controls you rather than you controlling the behavior, it’s obsession.
The good news for today is that when Christ enters your life, He will zero in on that obsessive behavior and He will give you perspective to go with it. If there is something going on in you that seems to have taken you over, and you cannot avoid doing it ... it’s an obsession with you … then Jesus Christ offers good news.
Instead of my reading the text through today, I’m just going to ask you to turn to the Gospel of John, chapter 4, and we are going to touch down on the story of the woman at the well. The woman at the well is an example of obsessive behavior; but hers is also a life to which Christ gave perspective.
First, I want you to see that Christ encounters obsessive behavior and begins to heal it just by naming it. Just by calling it what it is and not letting us get by with avoiding reality, our Christ begins to give us perspective.
You remember the story. Jesus is sitting at a well in Samaria, when a woman comes up to draw water, and He engages her in conversation. He speaks to her about a living water which, if she should drink, she will never be thirsty again. And she is intrigued by this.
Now at verse 16, Jesus seems to change the subject radically. He says, "Go, call your husband, and come back." Instead of water, suddenly He is talking about husbands. The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, ’I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands and the one you have now is not your husband."
How’s that for lowering the boom! Where did He get that?! Well, it doesn’t matter how He knew that. What matters is that He names the problem. He identifies the issue. He tells the truth. He puts his finger on obsessive behavior and pulls the plug on denial. "You are right in saying, ’I have no husband’; but what you mean is that you have been married five times and you keep on picking up these guys and sleeping with them and you don’t even recognize what it’s doing to you!" It’s obsessive behavior. She’s getting hurt, it’s destructive, but she just can’t stop it!