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.
It’s nice to think of Christianity as a religion of power. Miracles. Signs and wonders. Changed lives. “Thorns” removed. And it is this at times.
But true Christianity is a religion of paradoxical power. Power through weakness. Through need. Through desperation and dependency. As long as we are not self-sustaining gods, as long as there is sin, as long as the goal of humanity is to possess the character of Christ and his cross, then there will be weakness. And wherever we admit weakness, it is there that we experience the power of God’s grace.
Christian, God will only ever meet us in weakness and humility. A drowning man that is flailing and fighting to save himself cannot be saved. Only when the drowning man submits to the rescuer can they be pulled to safety. God is our rescuer. And yet every day we fight like drowning men to save ourselves. To do more. To be better. To not be like “them.” And so we mask our weakness and our desperation.
But our transformation into Christ-likeness never comes from our 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. The church is a recovery group. We’re all recovering addicts to the self, each in need of God’s daily grace to survive our weakness.
But Paul doesn’t stop us at admitting weakness. He takes us even further – boasting in our weakness.
Understand that we’re not talking about the “weaknesses” that we choose, you know the ones we use to get sympathy votes at work or church. This is not a theology of martyrdom. We don’t play the victim and we definitely 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 (huge difference).
Therefore, the weaknesses we’re talking about here are things we are actually powerless over. Things that themselves we would and should never boast about. The unending pornography addiction. The collapsing marriage. The need for medication just to get out of bed. The friend’s rejection. The failures. The illness. The ministry trials that lead to great discouragement.
So why do we boast in our weakness? So that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
And what is the power of Christ? Love.
God is teaching Paul, and us, to love. That’s why the thorns remain. That’s why the weakness stays. That’s why we boast in weakness rather than strength. Because it makes us more loving. More kind. More gentle. More compassionate. More grace filled. Paul says that without the thorn he would have been conceited, proud, uncaring, self-serving. But weakness purifies our love by placing us on the same level as everyone else. The level of the cross.
“To live is Christ” means admitting weakness. And it means receiving grace. A grace that allows us to boast in our weakness that we may learn to love with all the love of the cross.
Can you identify your weakness today?
You in Christ
How does union with Christ allow us to admit and face our weaknesses?
Christ in you
How might your weaknesses be used by Jesus today to teach you to love others?
Playlist: Power in Weakness.
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