Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Christianity - not a crutch for the weak

I've seen this statement brandished around quite regularly about how Christianity is supposedly a crutch for the weak minded who need to believe in something to help them get through. Christians are often branded as being spineless, gutless wimps.

When I was very young, this was the sort of idea of faith that I followed. Jesus was a weak, timid little man who told us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek when they abuse us so that we can allow injustice to come upon ourselves so that we may "suffer as he has suffered." Unsurprisingly, this belief was very destructive to my mental health and lead to many years of rebellion, frustration and confusion.

When I first became a Christian I tried to be as nice as possible to everyone and show what a good person I was and what a good person I had become while still holding years of unresolved turmoil in my life. I would be the nicest person in the world - until something bad happened and I would either shut down and retreat into a quivering mass of fear or explode into a violent rage, all the while believing that God expected me to be good and just keep the deep darkness within me hidden and managed.

I expected my Christian life to be easy and a continued distraction from my inner darkness. This was not to be. Life didn't get easier - it got harder and harder. But through the hardship I learned how to begin to face the darkness and how to work through it. It was hard and excruciatingly painful at times but I simply had to do it or I would never get better. I learned not to be afraid of working through the pain and that it was necessary.

I realized throughout all this that being a Christian was far from easy. Having to fight against and break through things that others just skip over is not an easy task by any means. Weak minded people may be able to use religion as a crutch, but without guts, determination and a reliance on the grace of God they would never survive in true Christianity. Learning to embrace pain as a friend, learning to love and show grace even when you feel it is not deserved and learning to honestly face the mirror is not a process for the weak minded and the weak willed.

Jesus was not a weak minded, passive guy who looked like a female with a beard as I once thought. Jesus was a carpenter. I've worked on a building site before and I know what carpenters are like. They are no pushovers. They are tough, hard working characters. I would say Jesus was probably built like a truck. So much is made of the kind and gentle side of Jesus which is indeed true, but not as much is made of the other side of Him, which is the tough, bawdy side. What about when Jesus gave the religious leaders of His time a right royal bollocking in front of everyone? Or when He went into the temple and threw the tables over? Doesn't sound to me like something a weak, fearful person would do. He did not die because He was too weak to fight back. He willingly laid down His life out of unconditional love so that those who hated Him might have a chance at eternal life. Is that something a weak, spineless person could do? Somehow I don't think so.

God wants to see His face in our character. Yes, this does involve being meek (not weak - there is a difference) and loving. But it also involves being clear headed, decisive, strong and unafraid to fight for our convictions. Those attributes cannot be performed by those who are weak. I came to Christ as someone terrified of my own shadow who would masquerade as a "nice person" to get people to like me. Now, after years of healing, I am more confrontational, bolder and stronger than I have ever been. Does this mean I am a bad person? No, it means that God has been working on me to make me a strong warrior like He wants me to be.

God is not weak as people seem to think He is. Nor are His true followers weak - the ones who decided to follow Him through thick and thin.

Be strong and take care.

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