This week's 'thought' comes to you from the book, "Holy Fools - Following Jesus With Reckless Abandon," authored by Matthew Woodley.
It's a short but challenging read. The word of exhortation on the cover is true: "A spiritual jolt for when your respectable faith becomes deadly dull."
This selection has to do with power in brokenness. Enjoy.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
(2 Corinthians 12:9)
"Brokenness doesn't just imply that I'm "damaged" because life has victimized me. In the Christian story, my brokenness means that life has shattered me, but it also means that I have contributed to my own brokenness -- and to the world's brokenness. In other words, I'm not just a victim of life's gusts; I'm also a rebel and fugitive.
Every shattered piece of my life is still marked with the Master's beauty, but I'm not whole. Whatever I am, I'm not what I was made to be. I'm in pieces. Stated less delicately, I am, at least in part, a screwed-up human being.
And it gets even worse, because according to the biblical story, I live in a broken world. One of the central themes of the Christian story found in the Bible is what theologians call 'the fall of man,' or 'total depravity." Don't let the labels scare you. They just mean that although we're glorious creatures made in the image of God, every human being on this planet is also deeply flawed. Total depravity doesn't mean that every part of me is as bad as it could be. It just means that all my attitudes, actions, and even my deepest and most spiritual thoughts and aspirations are bent and flawed toward sin...
This concept of depravity sounds depressing, but it actually flows into the other core element of brokenness: power. This power -- God's power -- has been released into our powerlessness. When we look at our brokenness, we don't just throw our hands in the air and say, 'I'm a total loser; I quit.' Not at all. Brokenness also means finding strength in our weakness. It isn't just being shattered; it's finding wholeness in Christ.
It's interesting that the New Testament uses the Greek word 'dunamis,' or power, forty-one times, but it's often combined with the word 'asthenia,' or weakness. Power and weakness link together in an inseparable bond. God wants to share his power with us. God longs to plant and cultivate real strength in us, but it often grows in the soil of our weakness.
The power of the powerless isn't a negative message. This God of power wants to pour his strength into broken human recipients, empowering us to live with love and courage, to enter into the mess of a frightening world, to forgive and be forgiven, to face our own sin and darkness, to live with joy and thanksgiving, to endure suffering. God is looking for people who will receive and then display his power. And he will find them. But only the humble, the open, the empty-handed, and the broken will receive his power. If he finds our hands full, or our lives preoccupied with our own self-importance, he won't give us what we don't want [or what we're convinced we don't need]...
I'll never forget nearly twenty years ago when an Anglican priest named William laid his hands on me and prayed for the strength of the Holy Spirit to fill me and empower me. At that point in my life, I was so broken and weak. I felt inferior and inadequate. But through an unlikely source -- William's touch and voice -- the living God spoke truth into my heart. As William prayed for power to ignite my powerlessness, I had a clear image enter my mind: An oak tree had just been planted in my heart. It was strong and true. It even felt solid inside my chest. And I had the distinct impression that it would continue to grow tall and straight. For twenty years it has been growing inside my soul slowly (painfully so for others around me) settling into the core of my identity. William's simple, daring prayer became my initiation into the power of the powerless."
May it be so for us as well. We don't have to be "fixed" to be used by God. His power reveals itself most fully in our brokenness, weakness, limitations, inadequacies, and powerlessness. Our prayer should not be, "Make me strong." It should be, "Show Yourself strong through me, weak as I am."
Have a most blessed week reveling in the God whose grace is sufficient, and chooses to use us in spite of ourselves, not because we've attained an appropriate degree of "togetherness."
In the Bonds of Christian Affection, Pastor Jeff