A crutch?

Is God a crutch for weak people?

I have been pondering that question after a chat with a barber who was cutting my hair today.

The barber clearly clings to remnants of beliefs he had as a young churchgoer a half century ago.  But he does not see that God matters much anymore.

Science, he said, has called into question the truths of the Christian church.  In his eyes, the only value of religion is to keep some control over human beings – to keep us from going off the deep end.

I suggested that every human being has an inborn desire for something beyond ourselves – as some have put it, “a God-shaped hole” in our beings.  He didn’t disagree.

He did not attack those who believe but he obviously sees no need for God – or for faith in God.

What struck me from our conversation is that the revolt against God in our society is not just a new phenomenon of the millenial generation.  It is a product of a long history of pushing God out of sight in our modern Western society.

For many people, there is no need for God.  Most Westerners feel they can manage quite well without him.

That’s where the idea of God as a crutch comes in.  I believe it has even infiltrated the Christian church.

I think many feel that they only need to call on God if there is a problem they can’t fix themselves.  And they only think of God because there is no other solution open to them.

Part of the problem may be that we in Western nations tend to feel that weakness and dependence on others is a bad thing.  We feel we should be in total control.

But the apostle Paul saw dependence as vital to a close relationship with God.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about a sublime vision of heaven that God gave him.  But after that, he received a “thorn in the flesh”, a “messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud”.

He asked God to remove this affliction, but the Lord replied: “My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.”

That is a great statement.  As human beings, we will not see God’s greatness and power until we acknowledge our weakness and our dependence on him.

Our Western world does not see God as he is because our world is man-centred.

So yes, God is a crutch for weak people.  And, like Paul, I praise God that I am weak.

But doubters of God would be amazed to find that the Lord is much more than a crutch.

There is ample evidence of God at work in our world if only we open our eyes.  They range from miraculous physical healings to transformed lives of even the hardest unbelievers.

To get there, it means recognizing – as Paul said – that we are weak and only God is fully strong.

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