By Ben Swift
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Back in late high school, a somewhat arrogant student made a comment to a Christian teacher that never left my memory. Intending to reduce the teacher to a man of weak character he suggested that his faith in God was purely a crutch to hold on to in a world that he couldn’t bear alone. The teacher responded with words that could only be put forward by someone with actual life experience, stating words to the effect, “Well we’ll see how you make it through the tough things in life without God to lean on. Time will tell.”
Comments such as those offered by the student are nothing new though. Consider the words of Karl Marx, “Religion is the opium of the masses.” But then come counter punches such as, “It is often said that the Church is a crutch. Of course it’s a crutch. What makes you think you don’t limp?” (William Sloane Coffin)
The band Switchfoot released a song a few years ago called ‘Vice Verses’. This song reminds us that just as a vice holds tight to an object, we should hold tight to verses within Scripture. These vice verses are words that we can hold to in life because they are the Word of God, capable of providing rest for our souls. We shouldn’t as Karl Marx suggests, feel ashamed to rely on the Word of God to provide us with life. It’s not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of reality in terms of who we are and who we have been created to relate to. I personally cling to several vice verses. Take for instance,
‘Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.’ (Luke 12:29-31)
‘He [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ (Revelation 21:4)
It would be a shame however to restrict God’s word to a metaphorical crutch. Scripture and its power to transform lives is also referred to as a sword. Basing their lyrics on Hebrews 4:12, the band Casting Crowns highlight this point with the words, ‘The Word is alive, and it cuts like a sword through the darkness, with a message of life to the hopeless and afraid, breathing life into all who believe. The Word is alive, and the world and its glories will fade, but His truth, it will not pass away, it remains yesterday and forever the same’.
So let us keep our swords sharp by continuing to read and discuss scripture, allowing the Holy Spirit to work through His word to transform our minds, conforming them to the mind of Christ and the wisdom that comes through knowing Him. Let us hold fast to our vice verses and lean on the crutch that God’s word provides.
‘We have not received the spirit of the world but the spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.’ (1 Corinthians 2:12)