“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…” - Ephesians 2:1
I remember a while back former Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, once issued the following assessment of organized religion: “Organized religion is a scam, a crutch for weak-minded people.” Ventura’s statement is typical of the way unbelievers view our faith, but it also points out a fundamental misunderstanding of what Jesus Christ came to do. Christ did not come to provide a crutch for disabled people, to help them along in their lives. Such a view grossly underestimates the devastating impact of sin on our souls and on our relationship with God. The Bible does not portray us in our sin as “impaired” but as “dead.” Dead people don’t need a crutch, they need a tomb. A crutch is designed to supplement our own feeble efforts to walk along the road toward our destination. According to Ephesians 2:1, we were not walking with halting step on a road to the heavenly realms. Rather, we were dead to God, dead to righteousness, dead to obedience, dead, dead, dead! In another place, Paul put it like this: “If righteousness could be gained through the law, then Christ died for nothing” (Gal. 2:21). If through our own feeble efforts, we could have made some steady progress toward the righteousness that God requires, if all we needed was a crutch, would God have sent His precious Son to be shattered on the cross?
Governor Ventura’s outlook is based on personal pride, and pride has long been identified as the base sin from which all other sins grow. He is saying in effect, “Other people need help, but I am strong, I am capable, I am fearless… I can make it on my own.” Ventura was a Navy Seal, one of a special brand of highly trained warriors who are taught to be self-reliant and fearless, capable of surviving under any kind of duress. But there is no duress like that which he and others will face when they stand before the judgment bar of Christ and must give an account for their lives. Where will this self-reliance be on that day? Where the boldness? Where the confidence? What will become of defiant pride on that day, a pride which reduces human need to a number of weak people, and to the mere addition of a crutch. On that day, only the humble and lowly will be exalted, those who knew they needed a full salvation from sin.
"The Bible does not portray us in our sin as 'impaired' but as 'dead.' Dead people don’t need a crutch, they need a tomb."
Our salvation, our “religion” is much more than a crutch for the feeble. It is a spiritual resurrection from the grave of sin, a resurrection accomplished only by the power of God through Jesus Christ. Ventura and others like him didn’t realize just how needy we were… he understated the case! But until he includes himself in the number of those who claim Jesus as their resurrection and life, he will remain in the gravest spiritual peril.