Christmas and The Paradox of Finding Strength in Weakness

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2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV) For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What a contradiction. In a world that says: the bigger, the faster, the stronger, the smarter, the better. How can we ever become content with being weak? Why would we ever want to? Weakness=Strength…really?

Whether we like it or not this is the central claim of the gospel. It is what makes Christianity different from any other religion out there. Every other religion says the stronger the better. In the ancient world If you were rich the gods liked you. If you excel in sports the gods like you. If you are healthy the gods like you…not much has changed. We live in a world we’re people are obsessed with being faster, smarter, thinner, richer, than anyone else. But the Christian message is the complete opposite…God actually came specifically to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. (Luke 4:18) God did not come to reward our strengths, but to identify with, and save us in our weakness.

You see, our greatest obstacle can be linked back to one thing. We are a people obsessed with ourselves. How can I ever become strong if I am unwilling to admit my weakness? The worldview of success and strength will always leave me feeling unsatisfied, empty, and weak. Why? Because there is always someone faster, thinner, stronger, smarter, richer than me. Paradoxically, the more I invest in those things, as ends in of themselves, the more I realize just how short I come. The more emphasis we place on our abilities and strengths the more we become painfully aware of our limitations. So many people have sacrificed everything to the god of success, but it wasn’t enough. In ancient times, the deities were bloodthirsty and hard to appease. They still are. (1).

So what is the solution to our predicament? In a world that says bigger is better, what do you do when you realize you can never be big enough? How could Paul say: I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. That just doesn’t seem to make sense. Something seems incredibly wrong about this theory. However, deep down we know it’s true. We know real strength of character grows out of weakness, which, in distrust of self, is surrendered to the will of God. (2). Our weaknesses make us painfully aware of our need. 2 Corinthians 12:10 isn’t just a theory, however, it’s a Person.

God in the person of Jesus came to this earth. He who was infinitely strong chose to become a vulnerable fetus. He who was infinitely independent chose to become incredibly dependent…a baby. He who was infinitely rich, chose to be born in a feeding trough, and raised by parents who where not rich, or even comfortable, but poor. He who lived in the best neighborhood, heaven, chose to be from the wrong side of the tracks, Nazareth. He who was infinitely strong, chose to be mocked, beaten and killed…why? So that He could rescue us from ourselves. So that maybe, just maybe…as we see heaven pour itself out for us, we will begin to pour ourselves out for others. How are we made strong in our weakness? Our weakness compels us to our strength…Jesus. The more we see our emptiness, the more He can fill us. The more we see our flaws, the more He can restore us. The more we realize that we are not the center of the universe, but He is. The more we see that, the more we begin to live the life we were designed to live. A life where our identity is not found in our abilities, but in the God who created us. We begin to see that because God allowed Himself to become weak, we are made strong. It is the essence of Christmas. Because of Jesus I am adopted into the family of God. It’s the only thing in the universe that could ever bring kings and shepherds to the same room. It is the only thing that would compel both wise and uneducated, to a little town called Bethlehem…where they find themselves, brought to there knees together, bowing before a little baby. It’s the paradox of finding strength in weakness. It is Christmas.

(1) Keller, Timothy. “Counterfeit Gods.” PENGUIN group

(2) The SDA Bible Commentary, Volume 6. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (921). Review and Herald Publishing Association.

Copyright 2012 Richie Halversen

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