Tom Gilson

Faulty Stair-Steps and Rubber Crutches

Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason posted a video yesterday that I think I can relate to more than most. He called it “Rubber Crutches” (see below). I have a ruptured tendon in my left foot, and I’m scheduled for surgery on February 16, the earliest possible date on the doctor’s schedule. I’ve been on and off crutches over the past few weeks, working through another doctor’s misdiagnosis and erroneous treatment plan. The crutches are optional now until surgery—the orthopedic boot I’m wearing should prevent further damage—and then I’ll need them again for several weeks.

With all this going on, I know just how funny the idea of rubber crutches can be. It’s a great joke—unless you need real ones.

Greg also made an object lesson in this video out of a step-stool he had built for his daughter. It reminded me of a funny/not funny incident that happened to me at church one Saturday morning, during rehearsal for a Christmas musical. I stepped off the stage onto some temporary steps set at the front of it—and the steps fell out from under me. I tumbled about three feet to the carpeted floor, did a shoulder roll somehow (I’ve never been trained to do that), and stood up unharmed. Choir members rehearsing on the stage laughed: they couldn’t see what had really happened, and they thought I had clumsily stepped off into thin air, or that I had done it on purpose.

Bad Stair Design: No Back Leg

Not so. Take a look at this rough graphic and you’ll see how those steps were constructed. Something very important was missing: there was no back leg. Whoever built it thought that if it were jammed up against the stage and the floor, friction would hold it there. They were wrong. If not for God’s grace guiding me into that shoulder roll, I’m sure I would have been seriously hurt.

Those who call Christianity a crutch don’t understand what they’re laughing at. When I’ve needed my crutches but they weren’t nearby, there’s been nothing I could do but crawl across the room. That’s life without Christ. Our own sin has left us severely injured, and the best we can do is to crawl. Christ holds us up, if we let him: we’re still not whole and complete as we should be, or will be in the end, but we’re leaning on something (someone, actually) we can trust.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, though. Set the crutches metaphor aside, and think of yourself standing on those stair steps. They had worked for a while, for me and for others. They seemed safe and secure. You might think you can trust what you’re standing on, but if it’s not Christ, it’s missing a leg and it won’t hold you when it matters most.

If I had taken a closer look at those steps, I would have seen how dangerous it was to trust them. I  urge you to take a careful look at what you’re trusting with your life—before you take a truly fatal fall.

These metaphors of mine are still not complete. I’ll let Greg fill them in further for you:



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