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Is Christianity a Crutch?by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
I had to walk on crutches once. Maybe the reason I'm not a devoted NBA fan today is because I broke my ankle in junior high playing basketball. I was wearing street shoes playing on wet blacktop. It was dumb. What can I say?
I came back to school a few days later with a cast on my lower leg, and a severely bruised and slightly fractured ankle. Now I suppose I could have coped by hopping from one class to another. It wasn't impossible, just difficult because the heavy cast put me off balance. And then there was the fear of falling again on the painful ankle.
I chose crutches--two crutches. If you need a crutch to walk, why not do it in style? It was awkward at first, but within a few days I got so I could swing myself along pretty well--but not so well that I wanted to stay on crutches after the bone healed. I was glad to be free again.
If you are hurt or weak, you need a crutch so you're able to get strong without being reinjured. Oh, I've met people who feign strength to the outside world, but inside they often feel very small. I also know people who have been snared by life's traps and damaged by abuse who need to recover and become healthy.
Crutches keep the weight off the damaged limb until it is healed. If you try to get well without protecting the hurt from further damage, you end up deformed for life. (And I've meet my share of these people, too.)
Are all crutches created equal? Alcohol and drugs are a popular crutches. While they don't provide protection from the damage, they obscure the pain for a while, but the cure can be worse than the cause. Another crutch might be denial of the reality of pain itself and escape to some psychic detachment. Another crutch is being a workaholic: too busy to feel pain.
And then there is Jesus. When Jesus walked the earth people flocked to him--needy people especially. They came with their diseases and disabilities: prostitutes, tax bandits, social outcasts, as well as community leaders with dying children. They all sought help in Jesus and they were not disappointed. People would come hobbling on crutches and end up waving them in jubilation.
A striking thing about Jesus: people were drawn to him because of need, but after they were healed, they stayed out of love. He never tried to trap people by making them dependent; he freed them so they could make life decisions out of love rather than desperation. This Jesus heals today, too.
So is Jesus a crutch? Of course. Needs and fears attract us to him. But Jesus heals us. That's because walking Jesus' path with him is immensely healthy and his presence is transforming. We end up changed, more whole. Not perfect, mind you. But better, healthier.
So our friend who rails at Christianity as a crutch is right as far as he goes, but his attitude says even more. He is either a self- made, boot-straps paragon who doesn't need healing, or he thinks he is, or he is just blowing smoke. I think it's smoke.
Do we need crutches? Yes, when we are broken. And when we are healed, we are free to walk without crutches alongside the Son of God.
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