Have you ever went up to an injured individual and declared smugly: “Crutches are for people who can’t walk on their own!”
“Um OK, your point?”
Jesus is for people who can’t walk on their own.
Christianity absolutely is for the weak, diseased, emotionally distraught, broken, and depressed of the children of men. The bottom of the barrel is the cream that rises to the top in God’s upside down Kingdom.
As Jesus said (my paraphrase): “I came for the sick, not those who suppose they’re well.” Jesus came for the embittered Lieutenant Dans, the paraplegics who can’t even go to the bathroom without being humbled by the help of others.
The nervous social introvert who can’t even go to the bank without praying they don’t see anyone they know.
For the foolish.
For the poor.
For the unpopular.
For the weak. Especially the weak. (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)
If the statue of Liberty will take them how much more will the perfect Father in Heaven open His strong arms for them? His own dear Son limped up to Calvary to show His compassion for the limpers. He rose from the grave to show they wouldn’t limp forever.
If Christianity is a crutch for the weak I say this: Lean hard into this crutch called Christ, and I promise, you will find Him much more than just a crutch.
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Phillipians 3:4-9)
This past Sunday morning, I had the opportunity to share a word with a local drug rehabilitation ministry (I was a stand in for my father in law). I shared the above text.
I always liked how Paul piles his daunting resume of accomplishments a mile high and then commences to set them ablaze before his reading audience. Paul had the right pedigree, the coveted social status, was highly educated (what would be considered three PhD’s) and was the most zealous for good works (=murder of Christians) among his peers. No man could boast in the flesh more than the apostle in chains. Before conversion, Paul lived the first century Israeli cultural equivalent of the “American Dream.”
But in Phillipians 3 he funnels all those supposed blessings into one disgusting category/latrine. Compared to the unimaginable worth of knowing Christ all of this was:
“Skuvbalon” or “Rubbish”
Admittedly, I know as much about Greek as a Japanese donkey, but I do try to rely on trustworthy sources when studying these matters. Biblical language professor, Daniel B. Wallace, of Dallas Theological Seminary says this about the term that is translated “rubbish” or “garbage” in many English texts:
The term conveys both revulsion and worthlessness in this context. In hellenistic Greek it seems to stand somewhere between “crap” and “s**t.”
I shared with the recovery group that this brings repentance into a different light. Who wouldn’t want to turn from a heaping sewer latrine to the immeasurably refreshing living water found in Christ? Like it is natural to turn your face and run from a putrid smell emanating from a sewer pipe, when we become born again it becomes natural for us to turn from the stinking trappings of the world system and turn to the beautiful sweet aroma that is Christ crucified.
I’m not trying to open up a debate about whether Paul had a potty mouth, I am trying to convey the shocking force of the language Paul is using to display the value of knowing Christ. Pile everything in the world into one gigantic stack cloud high and wide as the ocean. Throw in even legitimately good things people may desire (education, careers, respect) with the blatantly immoral (adultery, drug addiction, pride).
Now light a match and make it all a burning diaper filled dung heap.
That is what everything is worth apart from being in a relationship with
“Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phill 3:8)
To know His name, “Christ” the promised one we have been waiting for, “Jesus” the merciful one who saves us from our sin, “Lord” the holy one who sovereignly rules over us. Not just any king in a far off land, “my” King.
Knowing the living Son of God is eternally worth it.
Black Ops gives every boy and man-child an opportunity to team up with fellow gamers to fight Cuban armies, communist gulags, and…..Nazi zombies?!
In past generations, young American men spared life and limb to fight actual enemies for their God, family and country. Now young American men spare a meaningful life and relationships to fight virtual enemies in the comfort of their bean bag chair. The disparity is slightly sickening.
Young men are looking for something to fight for. What they have chosen is Bill Gates dream, not God’s. One of the high-school seniors in my class waited outside of a store for hours with many other Call of Duty-ers to be the first to purchase “Black Ops” when the clock hit 12:00 AM on Tuesday. He immediately went home and started playing it until he had to go to school that same morning. He went to school and when he got out he went directly back to playing the game until 12:00 the following morning. On Wednesday morning, he looked like a “Nazi zombie” (minus the ‘Nazi’ I guess) in my math class.
Gaming addictions are some of the worst kind.
Middle and high schoolers are not the only victims of this gaming disease. Unfortunately, a large segment of twenty something college and career aged men have contracted it. They should be finding a career, getting married, rearing children, and at the very least moving out of their parent’s house. Instead they are settling for notoriety of their “thumb skills” and ”E-hard” status.
A whole generation of young women are still waiting for their respective “Peter Pans” to awaken from their self induced Never-land’s.
I am certainly not innocent. Though I haven’t been legitimately addicted to a game since PlayStation’s (the first one) NCAA Football 2000, the fleeting attraction of technology still has its grip on me. I spend too much time watching ESPN and perusing meaningless Websites, instead of actually pursuing the knowledge of God, leading my family, and loving people.
Young men need something to fight for. Young men are even created for something to fight for. And though there is not the same type of “World War global crisis” the men of old were beckoned for, there is a very real war and real global crisis contemporary men have been called to.
There is a spiritual war calling for the enlistment of real men.
In Isaiah 32:2 we see a captivating picture of biblical manhood. It states that the good man will be “like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.” The verse shows the man as protector and guardian, as life-giver and as the firm rock for others. Married and single men are made to defend and protect their family, friends, church, community and country from spiritual attacks of all sorts.
Real men don’t fight fake zombies, they cast down real strongholds that stand between them and the knowledge of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
This is done with the deadly gospel weapons of Scripture and prayer (Eph 6). This is done by cultivating real fellowship that edifies, challenges, and encourages fellow warriors in the battle of life. What is at stake is not a high score or temporary bragging rights, but the fame of God’s holy name and an eternity in heaven and hell (Malachi 1:11).
I am not calling for a moratorium on fun, or a misguided form of fundamentalist separatism. Maybe just an honest evaluation of our values will do. Maybe we all need to take a heart inventory of what (or who) we truly love, and what we truly desire to pour our time and resources into.
Maybe what is gripping us is also what is killing us.
Maybe there really is something to fight for. Maybe it isn’t a “Call of Duty” but a call for the restoration of Biblical Manhood.