Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsWednesday 11 Nov 2020Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes
Have you ever heard someone say that religion is only a crutch for those who are weak and indecisive? Oh you deluded Christians, you just have your religion as a crutch, you need it as a psychological comfort. You make up this idea of God because you can’t cope with life. Christianity is an escape from life.
I have heard this a few times—almost inferring that anyone who follows religion is in need and can’t think for themselves. In referring specifically to Christianity, it was TV mogul and founder of CNN Ted Turner who described Christianity as a religion for losers. I don’t think Ted Turner really understands what Christianity is really all about, even though he is a very generous man who has helped a lot of people.
Are Christians Weak-Minded?
Why do people seem to think that Christianity is a crutch for those who can’t make it on their own? Has anyone thought of the many first-century Christian martyrs who were thrown to the lions and killed because they would not renounce their faith. Their religion was not a crutch; it was everything—even to the point of death.
In more later days, was Martin Luther King Jnr weak because he used organised religion to further the goals of the civil rights movement? Or Dietrich Bonhoeffer who stood up to Hitler and died for his belief? What about Mother Teresa who practised her religion to help the poor of Calcutta?
These are a few examples of the tremendous acts of courage and compassion of people who were not weak or weak-minded. They were very courageous people who would not surrender their beliefs.
Many of us need help along the road of life. I think it was well expressed in Bill Withers’ popular song “Lean on Me” written in 1972. It says in part:
If there is a load you have to bear
that you can’t carry,
I’m right up the road,
I’ll share your load
if you just call me.
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
and I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on,
for it won’t be long
’til I’m gonna need
somebody to lean on.
How true that that day will come when we need someone to come alongside and help us. Call it a crutch if you like—there’s nothing wrong with that. I read of one committed Christian saying, “My faith in Christ is not a crutch—a crutch merely holds up one part of your body. He is the foundation of my entire life”. I like that statement!
A Crutch, Yes
How should Christians respond to the objection that their faith is only a crutch? First, Christians should admit that our faith in Jesus is indeed a crutch! Let’s not kid ourselves. Part of being a Christian is recognising our own inability to get through life on our own. I hear people say, My faith helps me.
So there is no reason to deny the charge that we have and need a crutch. But on the other hand, Christians should most certainly take issue with the idea that having a crutch is ‘weak-minded’. If a person breaks his leg and the doctor gives him crutches, he is not weak-minded when he uses them!
So Christians should freely admit our brokenness, our need, and our inability. But we should not be considered weak-minded just because we see our need for a crutch! In fact, this entire objection can be turned on its head. It seems that the refusal to use a crutch when one is needed and available is the true weak-minded position!
Jesus has said, “Lean on me, trust in me alone. I am the way, the truth and the light, no one comes to the Father but through the Son.” We do use him as a crutch. Though Jesus is much more than that. Unlike some spouses and friends who leave or you can’t find them when you need them most, Jesus is there and all you have to do is talk to him. He will always be there.
It’s kind of like the poem “Footprints in the sand”. He carries us and a lot of those times we don’t even realise it. Crutch, yes—a crutch that won’t break and a friend that won’t leave. What a relationship one could have! He has his hand extended to help us up. If we need a shoulder to cry on or someone to comfort us, he’ll be there.
Footprints in the Sand
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you.” (Mary Stevenson – 1936)