Theology of Weakness (11/26/2011)
I’m reading a book called The Emotionally Healthy Church By Peter Scazzero. The book centers around how we don’t like to live in brokenness and vulnerability. Most of us are blind to how broken we actually are or if we’re aware of our brokenness, we try to cover it up. Our culture values “strength” but we’ve wrongly attributed “strength” to battling on in life while ignoring and not dealing with our issues. When we fail to deal with our issues, we build walls. They keep people out but they also trap us within. We may become arrogant or prideful in our attempts to seem unbroken.
Learning from Paul’s Example:
Referring to the “thorn” in his side: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ 2 Cor. 12:8-9a
Scazzero comments: “Paul did not want to lead out of weakness. He repeatedly told God, “I can’t take it.” God’s power would have been seriously diminished through Paul if he were arrogant or full of himself.
Paul’s growth in Christ parallels his increasing sense of weakness sinfulness:
- Gal. 2:6, AD 49, After being a Christian for 14 years, He writes about the apostles this way: “As for those were held in high esteem — whatever they were makes no difference to me.” He appears proud and headstrong.
- Six years later, AD 55 “I am the least of the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:9)
- Five years later, “I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people.” (Eph. 3:8)
- Finally, two year before his death and perhaps after walking with Christ for thirty years, he is able to see clearly, “I am the worst [of all sinners]” (1 Tim. 1:15)
Scazzero asks, “What happened? Paul had grown in his understanding of the love of God in the Gospel. He had become stronger in Christ by becoming weaker: ‘For when I am weak, then I am strong’” (2 Cor. 12:10).
Walking as a Cracked Pot (Also from the book)
A story I heard wonderfully illustrates this countercultural truth.
There once lived a water carrier in India. He used two large pots for his task. He suspended a pole across his neck and attached a pot at each end of the pole. One of the pots had a big crack in it while the other pot was perfect. The perfect pot always delivered a full portion of water from the stream to the master’s house, while the cracked pot arrived only half full each day.
For two years this water carrier made the same journey. The perfect pot became proud of its accomplishments. The cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfections and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. Finally,one day by the stream, the cracked pot spoke to his owner about his failure, “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize that I have only been able to deliver half my water to your house. There is a crack in my side which causes water to leak out. Because of my flaws, you don’t get the full value from your efforts.”
Then the water carrier replied, smiling, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” On that trip from the stream, the cracked pot looked around.
“Did you notice there are flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?” the master commented. “That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we passed these spots, you watered them. Now for two years I have been able to pick those beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, I would not have this beauty to grace his house.”
It is the way God works.
I am not finished with the book yet.. but it has already ministered to me and I hope this story ministers to you as it did me.
I pray that we would learn to walk as cracked pots. As we press harder into our walk with Jesus, I pray that we would not be afraid or ashamed when our broken parts are revealed knowing that it is nothing new to our God who created us. May we embrace our handicaps and limitations as gifts and allow the Gospel of grace to free us to be able to admit where we are weak so that Christ can be strong and the power of God can flow through without our prideful disruptions.
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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 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. –2 Cor. 12:9-10