How to become a Popeye-Christian

Published 9:57 pm Friday, April 4, 2014

By Chris Surber

There is no such thing as a super-Christian. I’ve never seen any Christian live a life fully unfettered by the cords of temptation or the thorny vines of weakness and sin.

Catholics imagine Mother Teresa floating through the streets of Calcutta on a little invisible cloud of pure righteousness. Evangelicals envision Billy Graham in his private study literally conversing face to face with God.


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It’s not true. Every human being struggles with similar things. To varying extents we are all imperfect, selfish and sinful. There are no super-Christians.

There are Popeye-Christians though. It’s true.

In the old Popeye cartoon, the squinty-eyed, tough-guy sailor popped open a can of spinach when he was down and out. When Bluto had him on the ropes or he was being attacked by a giant sea monster, Popeye’s pipe turned into a buzz saw, cutting off the top of a can of spinach. He’d pour it into his gullet, and his forearms would burst with strength.

His source of strength was the spinach that nourished his body. The Christian’s source of strength is the broken body and shed blood of Jesus, which nourish our soul.

Speaking of the table of grace, the Apostle Paul wrote, “When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body.” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17 NLT)

Are you a Popeye-Christian? Do you run to the table of grace when the giant sea monsters of life have dragged you to the bottom of the sea to drown you in despair? Do you turn to the bread of life for nourishment when the Bluto in your life has you on the ropes?

This is why the local fellowship matters so much for those who desire strength from God. Church is more than just the place where ladies gossip in the kitchen about their men and men gossip outside the kitchen about women gossiping in the kitchen.

The church, in all its expressions, is the living visible witness to the power of God and the living visible place where frail humanity can go to eat the spinach of God’s power for this life and beyond.

Communion is more than just something we do once a week as a ritual, once a month as a reminder, or once a quarter as a requirement. It is the time when the family of God gathers around the table of grace to receive the strength of our Heavenly Father as we eat the bread of life in celebration of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

Are you a Popeye-Christian? The only way to stay strong in a world of sapping strength is to regularly run to the table of grace and eat the bread of life.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at