Christian Counseling: Spirituality As A Comfort Versus A Crutch

During the fine decades of my life there have been two connected sources of unparalleled comfort to me. The first is love found in family, a handful of friendships and that of a woman, my wife, Fran. The second great comfort in life is my relationship with God, specifically unconditional acceptance and love, and also with brothers and sisters of faith. It is enlivening, elevating and humbling to realize that just as I am, I am His beloved and without reservation I am granted a firm and timeless position in His family. Having a forever security that is with me and in me and cannot be taken away is a comfort beyond measure. These and many others comforts are part of His plan for all who put their unbridled trust in Jesus, who surrender their lives to Him as He surrendered His life for us. He asks for nothing more than what He was willing to give. It is comforting to know He gave me everything He had, and still does.

But when does one's faith in God or one's Christian walk become a crutch? Part of that answer is immediately on receiving salvation. There is not one person ever born or ever will be born who is not in need of assistance beyond herself or himself. Sin cripples us, even renders us dead to God, which requires our dependence on Him and His work to give us life, help us stand up straight, walk the narrow path and even show us how. We fully lean on Him for salvation and to be the Great Deliverer throughout our lives. This is good. But along the way, we are to be weaned from the crutches of absolute dependence and learn the art of Scriptural interdependence (appropriately either leaning on Him and others or standing on our own God-strengthened two feet).

Those who continue to primarily use God, Scripture and/or prayer as a crutch never grow much or become much like Jesus. For some who use the phrase "God told me to..." they use it as a crutch to avoid their own fear of making a wrong decision, or having to acknowledge failure or confess a sin, if things don't go right. It is hard to argue with a person who says it and they know it. How are we to know what God said or didn't say to them? When it is against what He has already said? Some use Scripture as a crutch when they use His words for their own personal gain, such as a controlling husband who demands that his wife submit to him or when one forms an overarching belief based on one or two verses, like "anger does not achieve the righteousness of God" (James 1:20), so they avoid all anger and ignore Ephesians 4:26--"Be angry." Prayer can be used as a crutch when people fear and avoid conflict and troubled feelings. These they lay at the feet of Jesus and expect Him to take care of them, but they often have to do so repeatedly. These people most often fail to realize that the likely reason for having to lay them down at the altar again and again is because God is giving it back to them. In that He is saying, "It is your responsibility!" He won't take up troubled issues or feelings, if He has already told us what to do with them, i.e., go and tell an offender about his or her behavior (Matthew 18:15-17). This is similar to one who asks God, who will refuse to do what is asked of Him, to feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty because these are things He has already instructed us to do.

Will you take time and courage (it's not easy) to ponder where you are in light of these issues? Can you find one more example each how a person could use God, Scripture and prayer as a crutch? 


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