Baseball and statistics go together like Baptists and potlucks. One of the statistics that is commonly used today is called Wins Above Replacement (WAR). This is a mathematical formula used to project the numbers of wins an individual player contributes to the overall win total of the team. Many times when a player’s WAR goes down, then you are likely to see that player cut from the team. The rhetoric of our world tries to convince us that the value of a person is only measured by their usefulness. This paradigm is applied in all areas of life whether we realize it or not. Our culture says that if your spouse does not make you happy, you should seek a divorce. It says that if your job is not fulfilling enough, find another employer. We are told that if a new baby will cause undue difficulty for a family, then they should seek an abortion. This is one of the areas in which the Church has an significant opportunity to demonstrate our counter cultural nature.
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. (2 Cor 12:9)
Paul, in this context, is specifically talking about the mysterious “thorn in his flesh” and making the point that God is using Paul’s weakness for his own purposes. One of the reasons that many people believe Paul never clearly identifies the source of his suffering is so this principle can be broadly applied. Many times, we can believe the only way we are useful in the church is measured by our abilities, strengths, and personality traits. If there is any part of you that believes this then let Paul’s word drive that idea from your mind. In fact, the Kingdom of God is so opposite from the kingdom of this world that God instead leverages our weaknesses and inabilities for the sake of Christ. This is good news for the believer, because now our place within the church is not primarily based on our utility but our willingness to be utilized.
If we are to believe Paul, as well as follow his example, our weaknesses in this life are not things of which we are to be ashamed, rather they should be boasted in. For in our weakness, he is strong. This means that we should be honest about where we are weak. This begins with the Lord in prayer but also with our brothers and sisters in the church. By sharing our weaknesses, we are professing our dependence on the Lord and then are able to bear each others burdens fulfilling God’s design for the church. Unfortunately, there is a mindset present that says the church is for strong believers whose lives are in order. However, when we try to place a facade that promotes this idea, we are robbing God of the glory he receives when he demonstrates his strength in spite of our weakness. At the same time, we also rob ourselves of great joy in life by attempting to hide things God has meant to be a clear demonstration of his power. This is what a Gospel-centered life looks like; one that recognizes our inability and weakness, and then in utter dependence, we throw ourselves on Jesus as our only hope. The believer whose life is marked in this way typifies the conduct Paul alludes to all throughout his letters (Eph 2:8-10; Phil 1:21-26; Col 3:1-3).
When we “boast” in our weaknesses, and God works in spite of our inability, then there is no question as to who is the one working. Our family time on Sunday nights, while not the only place, is a great opportunity to begin sharing our weaknesses with each other so that we may all rejoice in our weakness as we see the Lord demonstrate his strength. Maybe even this week, consider an area in which you find yourself weak (physically, mentally, spiritually) and be willing to voice it for the sake of Christ. What are areas in your life right now where you find yourself feeling helpless? Are there tasks now that seem impossible that a few years ago were mundane? Is there a relationship that is strained or broken seemingly beyond repair? Does your body revolt against every movement you try to make? Don’t be discourage, God has put these in your life for his own purposes, and that is our joy in life, to be used by God.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:10)