I occasionally circulate in the parish short articles (“Friday Night Theology”) from the Evangelical Alliance. Here’s a recent one, by the Revd Tim Hastie-Smith, National Director of Scripture Union (slightly edited to fit here).
“If we’ve learnt anything in the last few days, it’s that we don’t do weakness. The prime minister loses her voice in a speech and she’s finished. As we observe the political fallout of a simple cold, let’s ask ourselves; what is it about weakness that we want to avoid? This isn’t about political point scoring; it’s about us. Are we comfortable in our own vulnerability? Do we want others to perceive our own weakness and do we welcome it in others, especially those in a position of power?
The Bible says, ‘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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ (2 Corinthians 12 9). God redefines power in terms of weakness - as service and vulnerability. But do we as Christians really believe that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness? If truth be told, would we rather equip ourselves with any bit of strength going rather than suffer the humiliation of looking weak? From the magnificence of our cathedrals to the mesmerising power of a mega-church experience with a celebrity pastor we demonstrate by our actions and behaviour that we prefer good old-fashioned power. Weakness just doesn’t do it for us.
St Benedict observed that the Lord reveals what is best to the youngest and Leonard Cohen observed that there’s a crack in everything and that’s how the light gets in. When we refuse to show our weaknesses, frailties, brokenness, the light of God has no opportunity to shine through. The young today know this. They’re suspicious of power; it smacks of abuse, of hypocrisy and manipulation. Instead they are crying out for a humble, broken, weak Church - a Church defined not by its own strength and influence, but by God's power made perfect in weakness.
So are we willing to be humbled so that Christ’s power will rest on us? Or will we be deceived and enticed by the stages and cathedrals of the world which call us to be bigger, stronger, and more powerful? Let’s embrace our weakness in which God’s power is made perfect. It’s what the world needs the Church to be – broken, humble, weak, but the bride of the God of power made perfect. ”
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