Christ

Religion IS A Crutch

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Ever heard someone lash out with the words “Religion is a crutch!”  Most of us have heard it more than once.  Many who say they have a faith in Christ get offended, or highly defensive, when they hear this popular criticism.  They tend to argue about doctrines, scriptures, and beliefs in an attempt to convince others that their religion is anything but a crutch.

Well, hold on to your pantyhose.  This Christ-follower fully agrees.  Religion IS a crutch.

Now before you throw those blasphemy stones you’ve got clenched in your raised fists, read on….

 

A crutch is defined as: “anything that serves as a temporary and often inappropriate support, supplement, or substitute; a prop”

Perfectly defines religion.  Temporary.  Unable to truly support.  A poor substitute.  Something that props you up… which, by the way, when removed will trigger a fall.

The definition of religion is “the practice of religious beliefs and/or ritual observances of faith”.  

In scripture, Christ and those who mechanically practiced religion were not fans of one another.

The religious measured others according to their index of proper acts, acceptable behaviors, respectable lifestyles, and appreciable knowledge.  If one didn’t conform to their preconceived notions of tolerable conduct, the religious would judge them as unworthy, unfaithful, even deplorable.

Christ measured others according to His Father, Whose heart knew of every decent and scandalous act ahead of their committal. Whose eyes saw every righteous and unrighteous behavior before they came to pass.  Whose ears heard every respectful and shameful word before they were spoken.  Who knew the measure of every lifestyle, deemed successful or unsuccessful by the fellow man, prior to the first breath of life.  Yet His Father continued to love them, understanding their humanity, yet knowing that He created them with incredible potential and giftings for good.

Christ demonstrated what true faith should resemble, and those who counted on religion were considered inferior and judged harshly by Him for their false teachings and man-centered standards.

Sadly this seems to have been forgotten today.  Today it seems so many still boost themselves up by bracing their lives on pompous practices and spiritually-superficial rites.

Obeying a list of “holy behaviors” will prop one up on a self-righteous and ego-aggrandizing pedestal.  The problem is that this narcissistic truss will only provide a deceiving facade of support.  With the first stumble, or deviation from the tally of rights and wrongs – like an injured man whose crutch is yanked from under him on a slippery surface –  the pseudo-holy foundation tumbles, taking the soul bound by religion with it.

Unfortunately, those who have allowed themselves to be crippled by the demanding and unrealistic checklist, tend to reach for that same list of do’s/dont’s  – making excuses for their own fallings, and holding others hostage to their deformed expectations of virtue.  They find a strange sort of comfort in their religious list.

After all, adhering to a series of hallowed intentions takes less faith and diligence than building a relationship that is truthfully spiritual and real.  The rules, regulations, and human-ordained practices of religion are a poor substitute for living with an honest and faith-filled relationship with the agape loving, grace-permeated Christ.

Religion is a crutch.  It is an inappropriate prop for the self-righteous.  Religion provides a false sense of support and stability and is a temporary aid to bolster the ego.  It is a weak, ugly, foolish crutch that Christ would snatch away in a second to prompt our reliance on Him instead of ritualistic nonsense.

Stand up. Allow Christ to strengthen you as you choose to follow Him… Listening for His voice, obeying His promptings, and walking – unaided by man-made rules of legalism – with Him.  Drop the crutch.

 

Oh… and drop your stones now also, please and thank you.

 

 

 

 

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We All Are Peter

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Ever read a scripture passage that reached into your soul a grabbed hold with an iron grip as if to say “Pay attention to me! I have something for you!”?

This past week I was reading and came across a passage like this. When the women had gone to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body, they encountered a man who told them Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” – Mark 16:6-7

Go and tell His disciples…. and Peter.  In my mind this implied that Peter was being mentioned separately from the disciples possibly due to his sin of denying Christ 3x.

However, every Commentary that I read indicated otherwise.  They all agreed that Peter was not be distinguished from the disciples, but instead was Peter was being singled out to assure that he was informed along with the other disciples… to guarantee that he was included in this report of Christ’s resurrection and His promise that He would come to them again.

Peter’s name was called out to make certain that he knew he was included in the invitation to meet with Christ once again.

I can only imagine how his heart must have skipped when his name was called.  Such a mixture of excitement, anticipation, fear, and guilt.  He had, after all, sworn and uttered curses as he denied even knowing who Christ was in the midst of the God-man’s most physically/emotionally demanding… potentially damaging… days on Earth.  He had abandoned Christ. Turned his back on the Christ that he had walked with, talked with, ate with, slept beside, been taught by, and even been called by.  Peter had refused to acknowledge the One Who had – with all patience and understanding – seen the potential in Peter’s strong-will, brash personality, and impulsivity.

Peter had sworn he knew no such man called “Christ”. Three. Scandalous. Times.

And yet, Peter was being called out by the same, Christ, and acknowledged as His in the presence of all the other disciples… who, most assuredly, knew of his shameful denials.

Scripture later records that Christ appeared to the disciples when they were fishing and John recognized Who was on the shore. And rather than waiting for the rest of the disciples to row there in their boat – for that would take to long –  Peter jumped from the boat and began to swim to shore (is it any wonder with his impulsive nature?).  He wanted to be in the presence of Jesus.

Christ waited until all the disciples were together and had shared a meal.  He then called Peter’s name again. He singled him out once again in the presence of the others.  Imagine… “Peter?”

Was He going to rebuke Peter for his sinful, slap in the face, spurning?  Would he point out how Peter had denied Him and then, publicly, announce that he was no longer chosen to represent Christ?  After all, how could he?

How could Christ, in all good conscience, allow Peter to represent Him and His cause knowing that Peter had stood before many and, cursing and swearing, joined in His ridicule and refused to acknowledge his relationship with Him ?  How could the hand of God continue to anoint Peter’s life with such a blatant rejection?  So many thoughts and emotions must have been leaving footprints on Peter’s mind and heart.

“Peter”  “Yes, Lord?”

“Do you love me?”

Three times Christ asked if Peter loved Him. Scripture says that Peter was hurt because Christ asked him the third time.  Could it have been another painful reminder of Peter’s 3 rebuffs?

“Lord, You know all things.  You know that I love You”

And Christ, for the 3rd time, reaffirmed Peter’s calling to “feed My lambs”… to minister to those who are lost and hurting… to those who have no Shepherd.

“Lord, You know all things”…..

Indeed He does.

Christ knows all things.  He knows that we are human.  He knows that we make mistakes.  He knows that we even, at times, reject or spurn His place in our life with our actions and/or words.  He knows.

And yet, just like Peter, He continues to call out our name.  He continues to let us know that if our heart is still trying to find Him through the dense fog of shame that can cloud our view of Him… if we are still seeking His light in the midst of our own mental and emotional darkness… if we are willing to jump out of the boat and “swim” towards Him – not waiting for things to be just right or others to come along with us… if our response is that pain-filled, guilt-ridden, cry of “Lord, you know all things.  You KNOW that I love you”… then, in spite of our sin, He calls out our name and reminds us that we remain called, appointed, chosen, His.

 

Such marvelous Grace.