2 Corinthians 12:9. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Christianity is a religion of weakness. Of need. Of desperation. Of dependency. As long as we are not self-sustaining, as long as there is sin, as long as the goal of humanity is to image God and possess the character of Christ, then there will be weakness.
If your life’s goal is to glorify God, and God is most glorified in the display of his grace, then your mindset has to be one of dependence upon that same grace. Asking God to remove the thorns, or to give you what you think you “need” in order to manage life’s situations, is to resist grace.
Rather, God will only ever meet us in weakness. A drowning man that is flailing and fighting cannot be saved. Only when they submit to the rescue can they be pulled to safety. God is our rescuer and redeemer. But think about what this means. It is the heart of the gospel, and yet we resist it. We fight to save ourselves every day. We mask our weakness and desperation. Salvation, and for that matter sanctification, never comes from your own virtuous efforts. It only ever comes when we admit defeat. Salvation is for those who are sick not healthy. It is for those who need saving.
In some ways Christian churches should feel more like a recovery group. Everyone’s an addict. And we know it. There is no difference between the girl who is one day sober and the one that is 25 years sober. They both carry the same weakness and need the same grace.
The seeming harshness of these verses is that God wants you to maintain your sense of weakness. Even boast in it.
We’re not talking about the weakness that we choose, or the weakness that we use to get sympathy votes at work or church. This isn’t about your “humble bragging.” Being so tired from working on the report for work, or going to the gym, or because you have three young healthy and beautiful children. These weaknesses are actually all blessings – you have a job, you have a gym, you have a family.
The weaknesses we’re talking about here are things we are actually powerless over. Things that we would never naturally brag about. The unending pornography addiction. The collapsing marriage. The need for medication just to get out of bed. The rejection by the girl. The failing grades. The chronic illness. The ministry trials that lead to great opposition, accusation, and rejection.
Also, the weaknesses we are talking about here are not chosen. This is not a theology of martyrdom. We don’t seek out weakness. We don’t try to fail, or get addicted, or destroy our lives. We must never invite a “messenger from Satan.” This is not about “the more I feel weak, the more I will experience the power of God,” as if weakness is now some sort of super spiritual experience. We aren’t trying to imitate Christ BY suffering. We are called to become like Christ IN suffering. Big difference.
The truth is we don’t have to seek out weakness. Weakness is our natural state in this life. We are born into it. Evil surrounds us. If you don’t feel weak today, just wait ’til tomorrow. It’s coming. The spiritual battle is raging all around you with or without you asking for it. Are you human? Are you alive? Does sin still rage in you? Do you live in a fallen world? If yes, then you are weak. Welcome to the group.
“To live is Christ” means admitting weakness. Christ did. His weakness wasn’t caused by his own personal sin like yours and mine. His weakness was caused by our sin. And yet he did not fight it, he embraced it to the glory of God’s grace.
Can you identify your weakness today? Is it a weakness you chose and even exploit to your own gain? Is it a weakness that you are actually powerless over? How does union with Christ allow us to admit and face our weaknesses?