Friday, October 11, 2013

Need crutches? ....................... Parables 030

Every now and then, someone says “Christianity is just a crutch.” The implication is that a strong person doesn’t need crutches. Only the weak should have to rely on God.

Self-reliant, capable people, and people who are satisfied with their own moral condition, will definitely see no need for Christ in their life. They may not deny that others need “that sort of thing” but they consider themselves above moral or spiritual crutches. Surprisingly, Jesus Christ doesn’t offer them any.

A New Testament passage in Matthew 9 reveals his response to the self-reliant . . .  He had been eating with “sinners and tax-collectors,” and was being criticized for it. His critics could see no point in His actions. Why would this man, who claimed to be sent from God, want to associate with a mixed group of prostitutes and assorted riffraff, including those despised tax collectors? They were the weak people, the people who did not live upright lives, who did not keep the Jewish laws, and who lowered themselves to take jobs for their oppressors, the Roman government. The critics were the moral elite, the teachers of how to live right. It made no sense to them that this person, who claimed to be God in human flesh, ate and drank with the bottom level of their society.

In response to this criticism, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ for I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus didn’t come to call those who feel no need. He didn’t come for the strong, the self-confident, the capable, those who scorn weakness and consider themselves morally and spiritually healthy. He can do nothing for them.

But He, quoting an Old Testament prophet, did say something to the “crutch-rejecters.” “Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”

This command was originally given to a rebellious and unrepentant nation. They knew of a sin-hating God, but they didn’t take Him seriously. They thought He overlooked their sin because they were successful, at least in their own eyes. But they were ignorant of the nature and desire of God. God wanted them to acknowledge Him, and to show mercy to others. Mercy is “undeserved kindness.” Instead, they continued to do as they pleased, thinking that their occasional sacrifices would make up for their selfishness.

Those who say they do not need God, or Christ, are also ignoring the desires of God. He is not impressed with self-reliance, and the ability to be strong. Instead, he desires a people for Himself that acknowledge their utter dependence on His mercy, recognizing that they do not deserve it. And He desires that we show the same mercy to others. He wants us to do good to those who do absolutely nothing to deserve kindness.

Can you do that without a crutch?

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