Reading some of the New Testament stories on grace, and forgiveness, and think that I have forgotten the scandalous nature of what Jesus was saying to the Religiotti of the day, and by extension to us.
Matt 5:20, For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Romans 5:15, But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.
Romans 11:6, But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
2 Corinthians 12:9, 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
I’m not really sure that I can explain, or fully understand, how God’s strength can be perfected in my weakness. In this case, Paul’s inability to do so many of the things that would be required in order for the Gospel to explode around the globe could be considered weakness. His poor eyesight, and lack of command-presence, would certainly be considered weakness. Perhaps his short temper, and ability to take something small and make it large, in the wrong setting, could be considered weakness. But in his case, these things became strengths once Christ came onto the scene. As much as I hate to use this phrase, they “became opportunities” to display God’s goodness and mercy. And Paul demonstrated true humility for us. For by being brutally honest in admitting his weakness, the power of Christ was free to descend and work powerfully in his life to the glory of God, and to the benefit of the entire world.
To me this means that we can either openly admit our immorality, ergo our mortality, or descend into the denial that ends in final death and separation from God and man. We have been called gods, small g, made in His image. I think that partly means that we know what He would do or say, but don’t have the nature to follow through apart from admitting our weakness, and allowing Christ to come in and renew us.
You see famous figures in the headlines, caught in some scandal, and though their facade has been pulled down, broken and exposed, there is a whisper of redemption in that. They have been given a gift. They can take off the mask, and be themselves to the world. They have an opportunity to make a correction, no longer need to suffer the sickness of denial. They now have a chance to find relief in the truth. They are weak.
I have a friend going through this same thing at the moment. His weakness brought shame and wreckage. But the brutal honesty that stemmed from his brokenness has been a gift to me and many others over the last several years. There were days, many days, when the only friendly voice I heard was that of my friend. He called to encourage, pray with me, console me, and assure me that someone cared when I felt so very alone and was sure no one really could.
Only when shattered by weakness could he understand and be renewed by the strength of Christ. And only then offer the grace and mercy of Jesus to me. In this situation, God’s love and strength were given free reign because of one mans weakness. The world won’t recognize this. They won’t experience this.
His strength made perfect in weakness.
Weakness is the common ground of all mankind.
Grace and mercy are the extraordinary gifts that Christ offers to all who see the truth in the middle of weakness. Who are honest.
On Good Friday, God’s strength was made perfect in weakness. His body was broken, so that everything Good might be poured out upon those who would receive it.
Those who are likewise broken.
- The Scandal of Grace (likeasaturday.com)
- Weakness (thebetterportion.com)
- Your Disqualifications Are Your Qualifications For Grace. (carloruiz.wordpress.com)