One of the distinctive things about AA is the program’s determination not to be distracted from its central purpose. AA doesn’t own property or maintain a treasury. It doesn’t have a hierarchy of officers. It doesn’t debate theology, allowing people to conceive of God in whatever way works for them. It doesn’t take stands on political or social issues.
It isn’t that these things can’t be good things for organizations to be involved with; it’s simply that the program recognizes that the sole purpose for people being at an AA meeting is to focus on the daily decision to turn their will and their lives over to the care of God as they understand God. (Step 3) Human nature being what it is, we will look for distractions — ways to avoid turning our will and our lives over to the care of God.
Similarly, AA isn’t interested in finding new innovations on how they do what they do; their meetings can seem almost tediously repetitive in regards to just “working the steps.” Again, concerning themselves with innovations would simply divert attention from the ongoing process of “working the steps.”
As somebody who personally loves innovations, I find this challenging. The Church is not an AA group; we engage in all sorts of activities in “the name of Christ.” But AA reminds us to keep first things first. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and everything else we be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
The last verse of another favorite hymn of mine includes these words: “Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for they courts above.” (vs. 3 of “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”)
If it is true that our hearts are “prone to wander” from our true home (even though our wandering may be disguised in the manner of the elder brother), what might it mean for us to remember to keep the first thing first?
We are easily distracted, O God. Often we prefer our distractions to your call to us to come home. Help us to keep returning to the daily decision to turn our will and lives over to your care. In Jesus’ name. Amen.