Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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15. The Paradox of Power – Part 3

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. 3 Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know 4 that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell. 5 That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. 6 If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, 7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

We need to remember that we are weak for at least three reasons:

  1. Because we are.
  2. Because if we don’t, we run the risk of falling into the temptation of pride and trusting in self-strength instead of the Spirits.
  3. And third if we don’t remember our weakness we will be in grave danger of miss one of the greatest truths in Scripture:

That the strength of Christ’s Kingdom is built upon weakness. Jesus said: “My grace is sufficient for you, for MY POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. This is the universal truth of Christ’s kingdom, that the strength of His Kingdom is built upon weakness. Today in the church we have all but rejected this truth, because we want it to be built on our strengths, not our weaknesses. That is why instead of seeing powerful things we see pathetic and puny ones. For when we built on our strengths, we get what we can do not what He can do. One of the problems with trying to build based on our power is that we end up pointing people to self instead of the Savior. It’s also exhausting because we live lives as if everything rests on us instead of on Christ. Now if you want to see this truth, that the strength of Christ’s Kingdom is built upon weakness you don’t have to look any further than the cross of Calvary. II Corinthians 13:4 tells us that while Christ was crucified in weakness He now lives by God’s power: “Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power.” Christ built His kingdom on the weakness He experienced on the cross. Poet Dorothy L. Sayers captures this truth in the poem:

The Choice of the Cross

“Hard it is, very hard,

To travel up the slow and stony road

To Calvary, to redeem mankind; far

better to make but one resplendent miracle,

Lean through the cloud, lift the

right hand of power

and with a sudden lightning

smite the world perfect.

Yet this was not God’s way,

Who had the power,

But set it by choosing the cross,

the thorn, the sorrowful wounds.

Something there is, perhaps, that

power destroys in passing, something supreme,

To whose great value in the eyes

of God – that cross, that thorn, and

those five wounds bear witness.”

It would have been so much easier for God to just lean through the clouds and smite the world perfect with His power. But Jesus didn’t do it that way because in order for the Savior to bring us salvation He had to become weak. As Philippians 2 tells us, He had to set aside His divinity and humble himself, making Himself NOTHING, taking the very nature of a servant. Trading first his crown for a cradle and then for a cross. Becoming human and humbling himself even unto death. The world looks at this Biblical truth in unbelief for they cannot understand it. Why would Christ allow Himself to die in weakness? Why die in this helpless and humiliating way, after all, isn’t He supposed to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords the One who in Matthew 26:53 claimed to have all the forces of heaven at His disposal?  Matthew 26:53: “Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?” So why did he die in weakness to win the war? Because Jesus couldn’t buy our salvation by force. The constant message throughout the Bible is that in order for us to be forgiven of the guilt and shame of our past there had to be a sacrifice for sin. Throughout the Old Testament, we see worshippers needing to bring an animal to the Temple to be sacrificed for their sins. A sacrifice was needed as a substitute so that even though they deserved to die for the guilt of their sins something else could take their place. The New Testament tells us that the blood of those innocent animals really couldn’t satisfy and take away sin, it just covered but didn’t clean. These sacrifices were really just pointing forward to the time when the Savior, the Lamb of God would come and allow Himself to be nailed to a cross and die in our place. Jesus gave up His throne for a crown of thorns, trading glory for groaning so that we could go from sinner to saint. On the cross, Jesus became weak, so that we could become strong. To the world this weakness is foolishness but to the ones who have experienced the power of His weakness it is life. As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 1:18: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Jesus power was made perfect in His weakness upon the cross, He became weak so that we could become strong. As the old hymn “Just a closer walk with Thee” states: “I am weak, but Thou are strong. Keep me Jesus from all wrong. I’ll be satisfied as long as I walk, let me walk, close to Thee.” What about you are you trying to serve in your own strength or are you walking in His strength because you have not only admitted your weakness to Him but submitted them to Him?