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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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54 Responses to 703

  1. youthworkerpete says:

    I concur.

  2. jonbirch says:

    personally, i don’t agree with the sentiments of the cartoon necessarily.

  3. Gavin says:

    No they are the strongest, when I am weak He is strong. Admitting we need crutches takes a lot of courage, and faith in God rather than ourselves

  4. jonbirch says:

    really depends how one defines ‘religion’ and what said ‘religion’ entails. agreed that recognising the need for god can be a sign of courage and honesty in accepting our need, but some people’s belief take them to an altogether less healthy place. there’s religion and then there’s religion so to speak. there’s no strength in religious leaders who need to control, that’s weak in my book. that said, my faith has been a crutch at times i think… i was weak and i found it to be a help, that’s for sure.

  5. Lewis says:

    Religious people are weak – but that is because they are people, not because they are religious.

    However “weak” and “strong” are vague adjectives. A man with little muscle can be extremely strong. While I am far stronger than an ant comparatively, she is immensly stronger than I relatively.

    In a world that makes idols out of the “strong” I am happy to stay weak.

  6. jonbirch says:

    “In a world that makes idols out of the “strong” I am happy to stay weak.”… and that is your strength, lewis. :-)

    i often feel weak. there are times when i’m feeling weak that i’d really love to feel a lot stronger.

  7. Pat says:

    A good one for starting all sorts of dfferent trains of thought JOn :-D

    As Lewis says ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ can be read in a variety of ways and I guess whether one uses them pejoratively or proudly wrt to ‘religion’ or ‘faith’ depends very much on one’s staring frame of narrative reference.

    And maybe also on whether one sees God as ‘strong’ or ‘weak’ – where again the terms could be used in polar opposite ways! If i said that, in some respects at least, I think God is ‘weak'(as some peole would define it) within the sphere of creation, then that is not, to me, a negative statement – quite the opposite in fact.

    I’m not sure if that makes sense but…it’s early and I have a streaming cold :-( )

  8. linus says:

    i am not religious, but i am weak.

    Jesus is not religious but He is so, so strong.

    Jesus makes God’s strength in Him perfect by choosing the weakness of a human body, the weakness of a cross. His victory comes at no cost to anyone but Himself (though it costs everything to follow Him). He wins by out-weaknessing everyone.

    God’s strength in me is made perfect when i choose weakness – when i choose to serve rather than rule. If i wish to be strong i must make myself the sevant of all.

    Sometimes, i am not strong enough to be weak. But that’s ok – God’s grace is sufficient for me.

  9. Angela says:

    So what.

  10. dennis says:

    (10) cool!

    And boy do I need a crutch right now, in fact two would be better then I could dance like that guy on the telly.

  11. Pat says:

    dennis – I always think they look like trombone slides!

  12. Robb says:

    Depends on how you read it.

    Linus – Weakness on the cross? I’d say it takes someone pretty strong to get nailed to death!

  13. miriworm says:

    It takes a strong man/woman to admit how weak he/she is I think as most of us like to mask the fact (even from ourselves at times) – hmmm very profound.

  14. Dave says:

    was Jesus ‘strong’ i wonder? at times he seemed quite weak to me – Gethsamene, fed up with disciples, strung out on the cross, tired, servant heart, asleep in the boat etc… i know i am not strong but love to see the redemtive flow of God’s good Spirit in me (at times!) that so often transforms my weakness into strength… God is good! dave

  15. Lewis says:

    Jon, thanks for that. :)

    Of course, there was a time when “religious” people were extremely “strong” – they went on a crusade.

    I have to agree with (7) that all too often I wish I felt a bit stronger. However, there is a bliss to be found in vulnerability, I think.

    All too often, those who are strong use that strength to advance themselves, as opposed to God’s pattern of “you have been blessed so that you can bless others”. Jesus being the prime example of this, with the strength of none less than God himself, used it to benefit His creation (whatever your theology of the cross is, I believe you can end up with that!).

    I hope that those who are vulnerable, will find strength in people of God who have strength to share, and that those who are strong will be humble enough to follow Jesus’ lead.

    Pat, I hope your cold gets better… and 5:14am – shocker!

  16. dennis says:

    (12) Pat, oh yeah I never thought of that.

  17. Laura says:

    and apparently, they have no necks!!

    different Laura than the one earlier in the thread.

  18. Pat says:

    Thanks Lewis – I’m a bit like :cry: at present – but nose and eyes!

    Robb @13 – perhaps we should take a leaf out of the paradox book of quantum physics and say Jesus can be both strong and weak simunltaneously – without that being in any sense a contradiction which disrupts reality or understanding :-)

    Dennis that ad always makes me smile – I love the way he scoots along :-D

  19. Bo says:

    The statement can be understood in a number of ways – at least 3. I’m not going to describe them, just my reactions to them.

    1. Good thing I’m not religious then

    2. Our weakness can makes us stronger than your strength

    3. Disappointingly often, yes, and I’m fighting that weakness in myself and others.

  20. Robb says:

    Pat (19) – if you say so :lol:

  21. Robb says:

    I’m interested that “religious” is a pejorative term in the modern vocabulary. Even the religious claim to have nothing to do with it…

  22. Pat says:

    Perhaps because it has become associated with ‘fundamentalisms’ of various kinds?

  23. Robb says:

    That’s odd. A whole different group of people say that it has become associated with “libralisms” :lol:

  24. gfeef says:

    i always thought that faith was admiting you are weak and religion was continuing to do something that showed / reminded you that you are still weak? (perhaps a little oversimplified?)

    and yes Pat (12) I also think they do look like that!

  25. Aideen says:

    My pastor always makes fun of the idea that Christianity is a crutch for weak people – a ‘crutch’? More like a stretcher! And we’re deluding ourselves by thinking we don’t need it…

  26. Pat says:

    Robb @ 24: Well, like I said, it depends on your starting framework :lol:

    gfeef @ 25: I’m glad it’s not just me – the rest of my family can’t see it at all!

  27. jonbirch says:

    aideen… sometimes like a hospital, even?

    question… did jesus come to start a religion?

  28. beckyw says:

    Someone who runs away from a fight might be considered weak, but for many people not just punching back takes a lot of strength, and facing the prospect of people thinking they’re weak take incredible strength as well. It’s a topsy-turvy world and Mr Topsy-Turvy has a lot to teach us about Jesus, I feel. He definitely was the epitome of strong when weak…

  29. beckyw says:

    Jesus, that is, not Mr Topsy-Turvy

  30. subo says:

    - and whats so ‘strong’ about avoiding God?

  31. Robb says:

    Jon – that all depends on how you are defining religion.

  32. jonbirch says:

    guess i think of religion as organisation and structure formed around a set of beliefs. seems to me that jesus brought some kind of huge revolution to his context and to the people’s religion… and the christian religion can be good or bad depending on how it reflects it’s source. i think that’s what was in my head when asking the question.
    i’m not sure that following christ needs one to be religious, in the sense of of an organised institution. it certainly seems to me that it requires us to be community.
    know what i mean?

  33. Aideen says:

    Jon – yes definitely like a hospital, or a M.A.S.H. unit is another metaphor my pastor uses.

    Also, anyone who thinks Jesus came to start a new religion needs to read “The Barbarian Way” by Erwin McManus.

  34. Robb says:

    Jon – That’s one way of defining it. The organisation and structure can do a good job of reflecting the source.

    I think it is a particularly modern notion to reject “religion” and embrace “spirituality”. We do it to classify those people we don’t like. We use it to create an in group and an out group. The X’s are “religious” we’re “spiritual”. Or “they’re religious, we’re disciples“.

    I can’t help coming back to the sermon* I heard on Good Friday. When we read the gospels we place ourselves into the camp we like. When Jesus is being crucified we place ourselves at the foot of the cross. We don’t place ourself in the crowd where we would actually be found. When we read Jesus words condemning the religious authorities we place ourself next to Jesus and point to whichever group we don’t like and call them the religious authorities.

    So did Jesus come to make people more religious? Quick tick list?

    Jesus came to bring people closer to God. [Check]
    Jesus came to show people that even they could worship God. [Check]
    Jesus came to show people how their relationship with God could be lived out in the real world to God’s glory. [Check]

    Sounds like religion to me. ;)

    *All together now, “dirty filthy preachers, they’re religious, we’re spiritual disciples following the source:lol:

  35. Lewis says:

    In 20 years time “religion” will be cool again anyway… ;)

  36. Robb says:

    Oh poo. Didn’t answer the question.

    i’m not sure that following christ needs one to be religious, in the sense of of an organised institution. it certainly seems to me that it requires us to be community.

    Yes. And no.

    It isn’t possible to have a community without some form of organisation. Once a community gets to a certain size people have to work out how to make it work. That’s how we end up with structure.

    Any organisation that says “we have no structure*, we have community” can’t sustain that once it becomes larger than a handful as inevitably there needs to be a way of making people live communally in large numbers when they don’t agree.

    Small communities can work like this until someone who isn’t quite the same comes along.

    Lets put it into a different context. If you go to the pub with 3 of your closest friends you can all easily agree when to move to the next pub. You can easily work out whos round it is. Very easy to all stay friends and all agree on everything.

    If you organise a Stag do with 30 people, much more difficult. The groom wants to go paintballing. 10 of ‘em want to go go karting. The grooms Dad wants to go to an old mans pub with spit and sawdust.

    The grace comes when we learn how to be in community with people we disagree with. When someone likes incense and we don’t [well we’re not religious]. Or when someone wants to have a loud band with their hands in the air and we don’t [because we’re not religious]. Or when someone wants to give us a smooth stone as a “new way of worshipping” [ :lol: ] and we don’t want to imagine the water rushing over it [we’re not religious].

    Does any of this make sense? Sorry if it is long winded and waffley…

    *For the sake of argument lets call this ‘organisation’ and ‘institution’.

  37. Laura says:

    Really good points Robb. Thanks. Was just having a conversation yesterday with the guy that pastors the church I hang out at about this very thing.
    What do you do when you move from 3 mates in a pub to 30 guys on a Stag do?
    I tend to be “ok, it’ll all work out” and “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, and make up the rules as we go along, depending on who shows up” He’s being much more pragmatic and thinking ahead.
    I said “well it’s all organic anyway right?” and he had a great line with “yes, but alot of tilling, and moving dirt with a shovel, and putting on dung, and planting then watering goes into ‘oganic’ as well. It doesn’t just grow out of nothing” Thought that was brill.

    I have no idea what that has to do with being religious now that I’ve typed it all out. :oops:

  38. Robb says:

    Hey Laura, love that organic thing :D

  39. jonbirch says:

    love the organic thing too, laura. :-)

    you’re right robb, i’ve seen the very things you mention play out in real life… probably many of us have. although i think they should all do what the groom wants to do… paintballing is ace! :-)

    two things arise… why do we need communities to be large? does the word religion need reclaiming? (after all, it has a bad name in many circles)… and if so, how so?

    anybody any idea what a ‘dis’organised religion might look like. i often laugh at the term ‘organised religion’, like if it’s organised it’s bad. who wants to watch a disorganised football team!? :lol:

  40. Robb says:

    I don’t really do disorganised religion. More “spontaneous”. But then I am an entp type personality (crap Dr Ruth will go mental for me using this myers briggs stuff – don’t tell her!!).

    Communities don’t need to be large unless we are… like going out there and stuff… maybe… modeling good ways of being… pointing towards and being part of Christ and his great commission…

    We could put a cap on it.

    Sorry, 12 followers of Christ is enough. No room for you, sorry :lol:

    Why communities? Why not community? Why can’t we all just get along and love everybody else and the diversity of it all? [have I been drinking?]

    Does the word religion need reclaiming? I think we spend too much of our lives trying to rebrand without trying to rediscover.

    What was it B McLaren said? Something like “I want to be part of a reforming tradition”.

  41. welshdisastergirl says:

    Christianity is for the weak

  42. welshdisastergirl says:


    Christ is for the weak

  43. Claire says:

    …religious people (recognise that they are)weak people =) x

  44. linus says:

    If you want to see disorganised religion, Jon, come visit our church any time. we’re pretty disorganised! I always think of “religious” as a negative word synonymous with ‘Dead’ and ‘Rules’. So thanks Robb for broadening my understanding of the word. I struggle with it because people say they’re not interested in Jesus cos they’re “not religious”. So i tell them i’m not religious either. Or people think they’re following Jesus because they do ‘religious stuff’ that He never instigated, whilst they fail to even know a lot of what He taught let alone live it out (i am one of these people, by the way). You’re right: “In what way are we like the pharisees?” is always a good question to throw into the mix.

    welsie @ 43: YES!

    Re the stag do: Jon is right, they should all do what the groom wants to do, and seeing as the Church is Jesus’ intended, seems like a stag do for Jesus would be a great plan. And we should definitely all do what the groom wants to do. =]

  45. buzz says:

    9. Linus – i agree. the weakness of a cross, absolutely.

    isaiah 53:7 ‘He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.’

    i am by no means a biblical scholar. so i am thinking that if i was falsely accused of something i would vehemently try to get myself out of it – try to prove myself innocent. in my eyes the weakness would be if i kept my mouth shut – passivity threatens.

    hanging on a cross with two thieves either side – weakness. the soliders and religious leaders mocking Jesus and Him giving no reply – weakness. being abandoned by God because of the load of ‘sin’ that was all over him – weakness. in the eyes of a world without God it is weakness.

    hanging on a cross with two thieves either side, promising one that he would be with Jesus in heaven – compassion, grace.

    the soliders and religious leaders mocking Jesus and Him giving no reply – obedience, strength, honour.

    being abandoned by God because of the load of ‘sin’ that was all over him in order that i may gain life with Him – love, obedience, strength, compassionate, merciful, gracious, noble.

    This is my Saviour King.

  46. Forrest says:

    Problem is the way people who say that are meaning that [All] Religious people are weak people. Not True.
    [Some] Religious People are weak people. That would be true.
    But, then, some weak people and some strong people are Non-Religious.

    It could be said that non-religious people are weak people because they can’t seem to summon up the backbone and kahonies to give up control and trust God – Control is their crutch.

  47. I think it’s gout – too much rich living :-)

  48. Welshdisastergirl says:

    Forrest- aren’t we all weak?

    isn’t that why we need the cross?

    isn’t that why faith is so difficult for some?

    because it means admitting the weakness that means we can’t save ourselves?

    and yet the cross symoblises such power in weakness…. it’s truly beautiful!

  49. Forrest says:

    Yes, we are all weak, and we are all strong – in different ways for different people and by different measures.
    You hit the bullseye about us admitting we’re too weak to save ourselves.
    Faith can be weak or fiath can be strong – just the same as muscles, exercising it builds strength.
    We have a neighbor Mildred who is becoming weaker in body as she ages but just as strong as ever in her fiath. Great gal to know.

  50. beatthedrum says:

    I am the weakest of the weak, but in my weakness is his glory!


    now wheres me crutch

  51. subo says:

    cheers for the discussion, it’s good to mull over this stuff

    recently have found myself very weak, due to fatigue/working in a demanding workplace, to the point that trying to get to ‘organised’ stuff, has painful consequences for me, I’ve had patches of this at different times, and it’s so hard to feel cared about when you haven’t the energy to get to stuff

    just as well there’s asbo

  52. zefi says:

    Jesus did not came for the strong, but for the weak…

    Ok, sorry, I twisted His words. Sue me. :P

    But assuming that the above is true, did He come to make the weak strong, and if so, how? To make them feel smug in newly-given self-sufficiency? Are they supposed to rely on their own strength, as though God has given them their own?

    Sometimes, I think I’m pretty smart and capable, because, you know, I’ve gone far; it must be because of my intellect and wit! But often, it is precisely then that I somehow found myself in situations that I’m forced to face the fact that I’m not as smart and capable as I thought I am… I hate and like that moment. :( :)

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