Strength and Weakness: The Inverted Nature of the Kingdom of God
Nobody is as strong as they seem. Nobody is as weak as they seem. Everybody is a part of a Body making strength perfect in weakness.
Many emphasize an “I can do all things through Christ” attitude while ironically denying the things that have weakened or frightened them over the years. Can they really do anything if they cannot own their weaknesses? Gwen White, in her article Spiritual Bypass: When Religious Practice Blocks Growth and Healing, debunks such Christian strength. This spirituality results in the “I think I can…I think I can” life, which has more to do with a cartoon locomotive than the train bound for glory which perfectly and compassionately gives free tickets for the people to whom the world would charge far too high a price (c.f. Isa 55:1).
It’s tempting to live with a sense of faith-slinging bravado in a world which increasingly values power and intimidation rather than authenticity, imperfection, limits and neediness—the very things that make for the drive and opportunity for connection in life and where true joy is discovered. The choice is not between strength or weakness but isolation and relationship as we learn to be less self-sufficient and more interdependent on one another. Nobody is as strong as they seem.
As the world increasingly commodifies human beings, evaluating them by how strong they are, some who have been without valid societal forms of power (e.g. political, economic, social and even religious) for a long time will fall into another temptation—to indulge their weakened and disenfranchised state. Weakness is easy when the dominant will not share their power or when multiple attempts to acquire power have failed. It’s easier sometimes to just sit there and be weak. Victimhood provides a false security. Just accept the status quo. Egypt gave us three meals a day! (c.f. Exo. 16:3).
A life of weakness is too easy to indulge in, given our society of victimizers and victims, but God did not create us weak. When we indulge our weakness, we effectively deny the power God gave us in the beginning as beings created in His image (He’s not weak, is He?). His power is demonstrated in God made Flesh to the point of Love on a Cross. There is nothing more powerful than freely giving up everything to love, and He pours into our hearts the very Spirit that raised Jesus form the dead! Glorifying our weakness actually sends the message that our weakness holds more power than God’s strength, effectively elevating us above God and drawing attention to the created instead of the Creator. Nobody is as weak as they seem. No, we are called to the more narrow and excellent way of humility (c.f. Phil. 2). This Serbian Proverb captures it well:
“Be humble for you are made of Earth. Be noble for you are made of stars.”
Duke Walker is a regular contributor to the Soul Care Collective.
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