June 1, 2016
There are many reasons to be critical of Christians. I was recently at an event where one of the participants took the opportunity to express his cynicism of the faith to me. Okay, I get it. No doubt we deserve much of the condemnation that we receive. You know things like; we don’t practice what we preach; we are forever squabbling or outright fighting with one another; we ignore the difficult parts of the faith; we can be oppressively conservative and irresponsibly liberal; we don’t know what “love” means; we don’t know what “forgiveness” means; we practice “cheap grace” (look it up); our faith seems to have little impact on our lives outside of the doors of the sanctuary; we use the Faith as a “crutch;” “etc., etc., etc.,” as someone from The King and I once said.
I think we are deserving of the bad press we have received for all of those reasons above… well, except for the last one. I have heard it said over the years that Christians use their faith “as a crutch.” Yeah? What’s your point? Who doesn’t have some sort of crutch to get them through the difficulties and uncertainties of this world? Some find their crutch in therapy; some in their families; some in a bottle; some in a syringe; some in their work; some in their bank account; some in their friends; some in their hobbies. Seriously this crutch thing is just a little overdone as a criticism. (This is not to say that all “crutches” are healthy.) I do not deny for a second that my faith “helps” me or “assists” me through my life. Why is that a problem? And if you claim to not have a crutch, then start by examining your arrogance and pride because I seriously doubt you are a “rock” or an “island” as Simon and Garfunkel proposed in the 60’s. Rocks and islands lead to depression, despair, brokenness and destruction. They do not lead to a self fulfilled life.
I guess I would rather my crutch advocate kindness, love, peace and selflessness than the egocentric, narcissistic values of this world. You know… the “please me, please me, please me, fulfill me, fulfill me, fulfill me, give me, give me, give me” lyrics of a fictitious song that runs through too many of our heads.
Here’s what my crutch said about living in the world:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The short of it is this – love God and love everybody else. Everything revolves around that. And the short of that is: You are not the first priority in your life.
Yeah I get it. We as “Christians” are not good at that. I know that. But at the very least we have a standard for which to strive; a model of excellence to emulate. We are not left floundering in the caustic “crutch world” of “self” and “self” and more “self.”
So Christian people… maybe what we ought to do here is actually begin to live the life that our “crutch” told us to live. What would your world look like if you actually began to “love your neighbor as yourself?” Yeah, I’m not sure either. But I do know that on those few occasions when I have been able to pull that off it has been very fulfilling. I know… that’s kind of the rub. It makes it sound like “loving others” is about me. I don’t know how to get away from that other than to say that maybe God designed us to find satisfaction in our care for others. Whatever it is… we need to be known for loving other folks. Seriously! You can do it… just lean on your crutch.