Inspired by Jean Vanier and Henri Nouwen
In both charismatic circles and mainline evangelical denominations we have done spiritual violence to our communities by equating “weakness” with “sin”.
What better template for what it means to be truly human do we have than Jesus? He said many wonderful things, to be sure, but it was what he did that gave those things a context, a space to take root and transform hearts. He touched the untouchables. He ate with sinners and tax collectors. He took off his own clothes so that he might kneel down and wash his friends’ feet. Finally, he allowed himself to be stripped, beaten, ridiculed, accused, and broken open in order to provide us a way into the Father’s embrace. Jesus made himself weak on our behalf; he humbled himself “making himself nothing, taking the form of a slave” (Philippians 2) in order to raise us up.
He also pointed to the poor, the destitute, the children, the inadequate at his ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is those that the world doesn’t find very valuable that are in the proper position to receive him. Why? Because there is no illusion of strength. These people are blessed because they recognize their inability to do it on their own; they need God, they need community. It is not that we have something we can offer them and so we do nice things for them out of pity; rather as we learn to love them we confront our own humanity and the humanity of Jesus. We become weak so that we too may always be in a place to receive his love.
The irony of our human nature is that it is in being weak and needy that we are found perfect. When we try to glaze over the full spectrum of our humanity, we inadvertently discount ourselves from the continuous saving grace of the gospel message. What we end up saying to others is, “yes, I needed Jesus once to fix my life, but I am strong now; self-sufficient; able to do it without help”. What we are really saying is, “yes, I needed Jesus once, but I’m fine now”. There is a reason God’s word is a light unto our feet (psalm 119:105) that may only show us what’s two or three steps ahead of us. If He were to illuminate our whole path, from birth until death, He knows we would trudge on down the path seeking success and good works, all-the-while neglecting to take Him along with us. It is out of His good graces that Father does not show us our whole life plan, but gives us what we need so that we may continue to fellowship with Him along the way.
Christ, in God, found his willingness for weakness to be his power. We, in Christ, find the same. As he became nothing in obedience, we daily become nothing that he may continue to be exalted above every name.