From the Pulpit: Weakness can be powerful to God

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 18, 2006

&8230;And so to keep me from being arrogant, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being arrogant. Three times I asked to Lord to remove it, but he said to me, &8220;My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.&8221;

So, I boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12

This passage is one of those that we shake our heads about. It simply seems incomprehensible that anyone can be strong and weak at the same time.

One of the clearest messages of most human cultures is that strength is strength and weakness is weakness.

And we all know which one we want. If we&8217;re in doubt sure, just let us encounter some period of weakness, and we will do whatever it takes to escape or overcome it.

Weakness is maddening to us, infuriating, insulting, frustrating and exhausting. We envy those strong.

So, few of us can throw rocks at the Corinthians for bringing that typical attitude toward power and weakness into Christian faith. When some people who seemed so much stronger and powerful than Paul rolled into town, the Corinthians wilted in front of them and then fell on their emotional knees in awe.

Paul, however, is anything but flippant. He uses sarcasm as a way of rejecting the entire premise of measuring power in human terms. The Gospel of Paul preaches is not about teaching people how to become powerful enough to close the distance between God and the world.

Rather, the Gospel is the message that God has closed the distance toward us, by taking on human flesh and living among us. In short, there simply never is, not now, not every, any boasting before god. To boast is to say that you do not need grace of God.

To boast is to say that you do not need grace of God. To be strong as a Christian is to humble ourselves, find our confidence in God&8217;s mercy and to love others as our own flesh.

Robert Montgomery serves as preaching minister at Cahaba Valley Church