Crucified on a Crutch

I have always found it odd and even comical when the Christian vision of eternal life is described as “a crutch” or “cheap solace.” After all, according to Christian belief the first thing awaiting us beyond the gates of death is God’s judgment. On the contrary, isn’t “cheap solace” precisely the notion that death is the end of everything and we don’t have to answer to anyone for our lives? ― Tomáš Halík

Yes. Yet, Christians who profess belief in just such a “crutch and comfort God” give credence to this claim. This creed sounds something like this. We believe in a God who is necessary to profess only when human power or explanations fail; a “God of the gaps.” A God who is on the side of our ideologies and partisan politics. A God who exists to make us feel good and give us what we want. A God who canonizes our preferences and choices. A God who looks kindly on the misdeeds of the Generally Nice. A God who admits all into eternal reward without cost or distinction. “A God without wrath [who] brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross,” as H. Richard Niebuhr famously wrote.

We believe in a therapeutic God who mostly looks like our human egos, writ large.

But Judaism and Christianity certainly propose no such vision of God. And when He came and confronted our diverse projections, He suffered our violent rejection.

I was listening to a lecture by Iain Matthew on St. John of the Cross, in which Matthew makes clear that for St. John, approaching the God of Jesus Christ poses to us one core challenge: hand over your possessions, your relationships, your past, present and future, your mind, memory and will, your good and evil — your entire life — to God’s total deconstructing and reconstructing action. Surrender, be crucified, die, rise, be made wholly new, i.e. capable of loving like Jesus on the cross.

And if you pass beyond the gates of death in His grace, not having fully embraced this radical purgative journey, God Himself will lead you through it as you near His absolute unyielding Presence as infinite truth, justice, love, mercy.

The peace we seek in God is a peace that only comes to us “through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20). A costly Solace, crucified on our crutch.

So yes, indeed, there is comfort and solace in such final peace, but only for those ready to sell their idol factory, go through radical detox and finally become the image of God.

6 comments on “Crucified on a Crutch

  1. Michael says:

    .”…..and finally become the image of God.”

    The silversmith was once asked how does he know when the silver has been refined and is ready to be used. The silversmith replied when I can see my image in it.

    Happy new year Dr. Neal, thank you for all of your wonderful blog posts over these many years.

  2. Nos and hoping says:

    My idol factory is going full force, and as I pronounce before my time before our GOOD GOD ” heal me LORD, I continue with the hope that my self righteous attitude Will be given up as my mum use to say. Micheal when’s lunch! ! ! I so concur with saint Micheal countless souls have been guided by this heaven sent slog I mean blog . Thomas,may all your moments be committed to GODS WILL for needy sinners love from us here( you know where ) P.B.W.Y.A.A.

  3. Craig D. says:

    Job 1:21 “He said, Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back there.” When judgement day arrives, my “idol factory” will not be available for back up and support, my excess baggage will be analyzed and hopefully sterilized and purified by the Grace of God. Thank you Dr. Neal for sharing your spiritually insightful thoughts with us. Blessed New Year to you and your family.

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