, , , ,

“Never trust a man without a limp.” Ha! You should probably never trust one with a limp either, but I digress. That’s just a quaint saying in my family that I suspect even my own kids don’t fully understand the meaning of.

A “limp” simply refers to one who has wrestled with God to get their blessing, as we see in Genesis 32. Jacob spends all night wrestling a mysterious man who touches the socket of Jacob’s hip and gives him a limp. Even with his hip out of joint, Jacob still persists and says, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Never trust a man who hasn’t wrestled with God. Or a woman either, for that matter.

“Wrestling” can have a lot of connotations too, from a playful pillow fight, to some artistic gymnastics as we see in professional wrestling, to a knock down, drag out fight. The point is the struggle, the conflict, the persistence, the willingness to get down and dirty and put what you preach into practice.

Jacob gives us a peek in to what is so wonderful about that when he says, “I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” I think a lot of us are afraid to go boldly before the throne of grace and we can get trapped in this place of people pleasing where you need to be looking good and earning approval. I’m telling you, if you wrestle with God enough to put your hip out and live to tell the tale, it just changes everything.

Which brings me to celebrity preachers, to the whole CEO nature of the religious circuit, book authors and speaking engagements, popularity contests and podcasts. Don’t get me wrong, I have some favorites myself and I don’t think it’s all bad, it’s just that, “never trust a man without a limp.” It’s much better to rest your eyes on an unknown Jacob who is actually in the fight and not just someone in the celebrity of the fight.

Which all brings me to the orange guy who recently went “Tip Toeing Through the Tulip,” watched 9 hours of John Piper, and then wrote a rather comical and scathing review of Calvinism, or at least “Calvinism” Piper-style. I laughed, it was quite funny and entertaining, but it also made me want to wail in despair because some beautiful tools are really being distorted by celebrity pastors and pop culture Christianity. (Don’t forget all the cage stage Calvinists of social media, all foaming at the mouth, eager to play cancel culture and scream “unregenerate” and “not elect” to any passer by.)

One problem is that you can’t put a concept like “total depravity” on a Jesus juke coffee cup. It’s been discussed, debated, written, and argued about by centuries worth of scholars and we’re often caught trying to paint it on a cave wall with a stick and some berry juice so we can beat our chests and proceed to unfriend all the undesirables.

Which brings me to perseverance of the saints and the nature of long suffering. Ai yi yi. Just kidding.

Here’s my point, theology is a just a tool, it is just one form of knowing, a good one because without it you’ll wind up out in the tulips tripping the light fantastic, but just the same Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.”

Jesus never said, you shall be known by your celebrity pastors, your Westminster confessions, and your tulip acronyms, but rather by your love for one another. Love can be really hard. It often requires sacrifice, a willingness to throw your hip out of joint wrestling with God.