"Christianity is a crutch."
At some point, I'm guessing you've heard this bit of boilerplate criticism. Opponents of the faith claim that Christianity is for the weak-minded, the weak-willed, or the ill-informed. It's a coping mechanism; a crutch for the intellectually and emotionally impaired. I bristle against this accusation. My impulse is to defend the faith. But in this instance, no defense is necessary. Regardless of the critic's intention, her observation is valid.
Christianity is a crutch; it's provides support for the impaired.
The Christian message is not good advice for the strong and competent. It's good news for the weak and helpless.
I recently heard Matt Chandler make this point in a sermon. He said (my paraphrase),
"Of course Christianity is a crutch! And I need a crutch because my legs are broken!"
Jesus Christ came for the weak, not the strong. Christians should find this statement utterly unobjectionable and inexplicably hopeful. If we do object, we've missed the Christian message by a mile. As a case in point, consider the following verses:
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:12)
When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
...the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10)
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. (Ephesians 2:4)
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1 Tim 1:15).
If you think you're independently righteous, intelligent, wise, competent or powerful, you will not be attracted to Jesus, Only the spiritually bankrupt rejoice in his goodness (Matthew 5:3), only the guilty delight in his pardoning grace (Luke 7:47), only the burdened find relief in his steadfast strength (Matthew 11:28-30).
This month, life has kicked me and my family in the teeth. Suffering and chaos make painfully clear that we aren't in control, we aren't wise, and we aren't independently righteous.
Right now, I don't need advice. I need a very reliable crutch. I need to know...
- that God has complete authority, yet uses it only for my good.
- that each fresh act of sin provides a new opportunity to exult in God's inexhaustible grace.
- that no circumstance, power. person or idea can derail God's redemptive purpose in my life.
I need gospel-infused confidence. Christianity is a crutch, but it's far more. It's a rock for my feet (Psalm 61:2), and an anchor for my soul (Hebrews 6:19).
If you bristle against this, you'll find Christianity arduous or irrelevant. But if you know you're weak, this is the best message in the universe.
"For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite."