Strength in Weakness
The past few months were packed with a number of events that brought to the forefront some of the deepest questions we are dealing with as a country. Questions about gender, identity, marriage, and love. As these events and people's reactions have blown up across our screens and conversations, it leaves those who hold to historic Christian beliefs in a unique place. For one, it has shown how quickly those who hold to these historic Christian beliefs are being pushed aside.
There have been many reactions to all these events. But one thing I haven’t seen many people talking about is this: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9) These were the words God spoke to the Apostle Paul when he found himself in a position of weakness. Paul wrote, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Perhaps in our current situation, where we as Christians feel new weakness, where we face new insults, persecutions and difficulties, perhaps there is now a place for us to rejoice. For when we are weak, then we are strong.
Such rejoicing in weakness sounds so foreign to us as American Christians. For so long we’ve enjoyed the benefits of a culture that largely overlapped with our beliefs. We’ve enjoyed not just a seat at the table, but at the head of the table. We’ve been in a position of power. Perhaps we made the mistake of thinking that was normal. Perhaps when we’ve felt secure in our power, we didn’t leave room for Christ to work.
Let me take it one step further. Perhaps this power, that we have enjoyed for so long, has actually led us to lose a vital part of what it means to be Christian–that the way to glory comes through the cross. Instead, we’ve gone right for the glory, looking to bypass the cross.
But here is the problem with that - glory without a cross is not a Christian way. Because without the cross there is no salvation. For Jesus took a cross, which looked weak and foolish, and turned it into the gateway to salvation. Christ subverted the powers of this world, by taking what looked like loss and turning it into victory. Because we are united to Christ we are called to follow the same route. We walk the path of the cross because we know it is the gateway to glory. So, maybe all that’s happening in our culture is for our good. It’s putting us on the path we should have been on long ago – a path that leads to the cross. Perhaps we should embrace our weakness, not lament it.
Philippians tells us that Christ emptied himself. I believe the way ahead is to get back to this model. We should be known as people who empty themselves, not those who try to fill themselves up. When we do that I believe our lifestyle would better match up with the gospel which we share. Because at the center of the gospel is a cross. So let us rejoice with the Apostle Paul because when we are weak, then we are strong in Christ.