Christian myths – or myths about Christianity – or myths propagated by Christians and those opposed – what is reality, what do we/should we believe, what is the truth about some of the claims made by or about Christians? Myth busters is a great fun TV series – but also a great idea. What is true? What’s not? What is plausible, proven or busted? Christians should ask these questions constantly. Test the Spirit – don’t just swallow everything you hear uncritically!
A Little Faith
Whenever you see scenes in mainstream movies about Christian faith (try… “The Day After Tomorrow” 1.20.40ff or “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” 21.55ff) there’s an underlying theme that Christianity is for fools and the weak – for people who are tricked into giving their time, money and allegiance to something pathetic. The scene from “The Day after Tomorrow” has an actor trying to preserve an original Guttenberg Bible – doesn’t believe in God but believes in man’s ability to reason and conquer. “I want to save something of Western civilisation.” Or Indiana Jones asks his boss… “Do you believe?” “At my age I’m willing to take a few things on faith”.
- Faith fills in the gaps when you have nothing else!?
- It’s my support when I can’t fight my own battles, or I face fears that I can’t deal with some other way.
- Only people who can’t stand on their own need to put their trust in a God you can’t see or hear – a god who can’t possibly be good.
- Evil in the world proves that god doesn’t exist so believing in a god is blindly putting aside all reason.
- We’re on our own and Christians need to join the 21st century.
- Is Christianity an escape from reality – and insurance policy for losers?
- Is your faith simply a crutch?
As you think about this – ask yourself…
- What does the world think of Christians?
- What do your non-Christian peers, family and friends think of Christians?
- Is Christianity just a crutch?
- Do those around you think that you are showing your weakness by “trusting” in Jesus?
Is Christianity for the Weak
People who proclaim Christianity is for losers and the weak are making a pile of assumptions that we can deal with – assumptions that are based on power and confidence. They assume…
- That all faith is blind
- That they are powerful and require no support
- That what they have confidence in is the right foundation for life
Let’s start with faith – what is it? Christian faith is about personal trust. We entrust ourselves to the God of the Bible – we have a personal relationship with the God – not simply a friendship – we depend on God for our very existence and for our salvation.
Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
Faith in Jesus starts with a right understanding of our world. This is not a matter of blindness but of seeing the truth clearly. We are not the people God created us to be – rather than following God we abandoned his ways and went gone our own way.
Ephesians 2:1-2a “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world…”
But through Jesus’ death and resurrection we have assurance that he has reconciled us to God.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18a “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ…”
Faith in Christ means we see truly. Without Jesus we are rebellious and broken people in need of healing. With Jesus we are given the assurance that he is sovereign over all things, that his kingdom is coming, and that he is returning us to the arms of the one holy and loving God.
All of this says that in one sense Christian faith is a crutch! But a crutch is a necessary support. The problem isn’t with Christianity being a crutch – the question is why people think it’s a valid criticism. Crutches are what you use when you can’t stand on your own. Broken a leg or had to use crutches? I did for 6 weeks or so. I couldn’t get around on my own two feet. In a sense it’s a great description of Christianity. We start our walk with Christ by admitting that we are broken and can’t deal with sin and the consequences. Left to our own devices we will perish – and we have to come to the point where we can recognise and admit that. Accepting Jesus is accepting his strength and power to deal with our brokenness.
So even though the idea of Christianity being a crutch is meant as an insult – it really is simply the truth. The implication is that we should be tough and face life, cope with the realities of this world without any assistance. Fact is we wouldn’t hesitate to use crutches for a broken leg – those who see the truth of this world accept Jesus because he is the only way to survive.
We can understand why people don’t want to look weak and accept Christ. It’s because most people in our western world operate under the assumption that they are powerful and strong – or that they should be. That’s what our society promotes – never let weakness be shown. We take pity on weakness – we push students getting ahead by your own strength and power. We have this mistaken understanding of the world that we are in control. That’s the first thing we have to give up under Christ – the mistaken belief that we are in control.
Romans 5:6, 8 “…at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly … God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The Bible shows us that all people are broken and incomplete – physically, mentally and spiritually. None of us can stand on our own – and most importantly in the one thing that matters, none of us can stand guiltless before God on our own. Jesus said that he came to save those who recognised their lack of power and control.
Mark 2:17 “…Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
If we wish to survive this life then we have to recognise our lack of power and lean on Christ. When we go it alone we fall flat. It is only while we are on crutches that God’s healing hand restores us and finally brings us in transformed, resurrected glory to himself. Jesus says:
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
A Right Foundation
In the end it comes down to where your confidence lays – in something that works or something unproven. If you put your confidence in yourself then God says you will fail. Not one of us is good enough to stand before God, answer for our sins, pay for our sins and then survive – but that choice exists for people. We have to come to the realisation that we are not powerful or in control, and we certainly are not good enough and can’t be.
We may baulk at the idea that Christianity is crutch – and that’s fair – to us Christ is simply the truth. But the danger would be to replace it with some other word that makes us somehow a little powerful or a little responsible for our salvation. The truth is that without the gospel as our support and foundation we would sink. We talk about growing in Christ, of deepening our relationship with God, even of being swept up in praise of our Savior and Lord. We forget that we only walk and run with Jesus by his power.
Isaiah 40:30-31 “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Really, great idea for a post. I really like the questions posed and how you encourage Christians to “test the Spirit”. As Blessed John Paul II says, “truth cannot contradict truth.” We need not be afraid of getting into the tough questions and putting our religion under the light of Christ. But we must be honest with ourselves, making sure that we are consistent in our beliefs, both in word and action.
Christians are criticized for being weak, for needing God. As you say, Christians need a crutch. This can be a really hard concept for people to grasp because we’re taught that we need to be independent, 100%. The idea of being weak is appalling to some…but that’s one of Christ’s most beautiful paradoxes. It is in our weaknesses that we are closest to Christ. Yes, because we are depending on Him…but also because, look at Christ on the cross, in His greatest moment of weakness and vulnerability, He gave us the greatest gift – His very life. When we are weak, we are united with our beloved Lord in His death, and with Him we can rise to new life
Thanks for the good thoughts to start off my week. God bless you and may Christ’s peace always reign in your heart.