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11th October 2012
A few months ago, I noticed on an acquaintance's Facebook profile that under 'Religious Views', she had written: "Religion is a crutch for the weak." My first thought was that she can't have ever got to really know a religious person (ignoring any quibbles about the use of the word religion – let's just assume it means someone with faith). I also guessed that the 100,000+ Christians killed on account of their faith each year for the last decade would not agree! (Not to mention the thousands of people of other faiths who are martyred, too.)
And I'm sure Jonah would've disagreed. God asked him to go somewhere he didn't want to go and to proclaim a message to a people who may very well have killed him for it. Most of us don't find ourselves in such dangerous situations – in fact, we can languish for years in a comfortable, mediocre Christianity if we choose to – but when we actively pursue God, our faith is challenging, transforming and demanding.
Being a Christian means submitting to an authority higher than yourself – this can mean, for example, choosing to do something you may not particularly want to do (forgiving when you'd rather hold a grudge, giving to charity/those in need when you'd rather buy a new TV, being kind to someone who is unkind to you, etc), and deciding to align your beliefs, attitudes, behaviour – your whole life – to what God says is true and right, because you trust that even when you may not like it, God's ways are higher than your ways and He knows better than you!
Of course, in one sense, our faith is a crutch and we are weak. On the journey to faith, an essential step for the Christian is recognising their personal, desperate need for a Saviour. And the Bible tells us that "God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong" – our God is especially concerned about those who the world might judge as weak and He makes it His delight to lavish His mercy on those who know they need it! We also know that God is "an ever-present help in trouble", so in one sense it's absolutely true to say He's the One on whom the weak can lean to be upheld. (But I doubt that's what my Facebook acquaintance means!)
Faith in God – our Creator and our Father who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love – is wonderful! But it is also often hard, because in the words of the famous hymn: "Love so amazing, so divine / Demands my soul, my life, my all!"
Readings: Jonah; 1 Corinthians 1:27-31; Psalm 46:1-3
Question: How is God asking you to align your ways with His ways at the moment?
Next prayer meeting: Tonight at 7.30pm, THC
Posted by Natalie Williams