“If I must boast, I will boast
of the things that show my weakness.”— 2 Corinthians 11:30 (ESV)
The gospel has a unique way of
turning our culture on its head. It elevates what our culture degrades and
degrades what our culture elevates.
One of the things our culture elevates
We love to be strong. It’s hardwired
in our system to always swirl the ball from weakness to strength.
What we naturally do is find areas
where we are better than others, what economists call the ‘comparative
advantage’, and use that to manipulate others, buy favours from them and ultimately
It may be your knowledge in a
particular field, it may be an education, knowledge of doctrine, the number of
years you have been a Christian, a political office you hold, your place in the
family, financial status, name it. We will naturally craft strength and power
according to the things where we have an advantage over others.
St. Paul had also done the same
many years before us. He had persecuted the early followers of Christ, the ones
they called “the Way”. Not just that, he had been on the team that successfully
executed Stephen with the help of sharp desert rocks (Acts 7:54-60; 22:20)
Paul had developed a reputation
because he had learned at the feet of the best theologians of his day, unlike
the people who followed The Way. To him, they were unlearned, weak, poor, dirty
and smelt like fish (most of these men had been fishermen).
Then, God wrecked him. God took
away his power, trashed what he had learned at the feet of Gameliel (Acts 22:3)
and turned the High Priest and the Council of Elders against him.
Paul, the hunter, now became
Paul the hunted. At this moment when Paul was weak, God started to use him.
Strong people don’t need a Saviour.
They can always craft a saviour from their doctorates, medical degrees,
political offices, theology, money, spouses, and children among others.
Weak people on the other hand
are those who have been driven to despair by God. They have learned the hard
way that there is no salvation in things smaller than Jesus, and much less
their zeal for God. Out of their weakness, God has drawn them to Himself and
has become their help.
In the gospel accounts, all the
people Jesus delivered are those who admitted their weakness and how they couldn’t
do it on their own. They had lost hope in what this world had to offer and fell
at the feet of Him who is the resurrection and the life.
They found hope in Christ alone
who came to do for them what they had failed to do for themselves. And in him,
they found deliverance and strength. Not their own but His.
Paul, at a deeper level, knew
what it meant to admit weak when he wrote to the messed up church in Corinth:
“For consider your calling,
brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many
were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in
the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the
strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are
not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in
the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to
us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that,
as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians
Friend, there is tremendous freedom
in admitting weakness. God is for weak, lowly, poor, losers, dirt-ridden, arrogant
beggars who know it. If you are one of these, you have a Saviour in Jesus
Christ who is your strength.